Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament Rules

The following rules apply to the annual Delaware Sport Fishing tournament, including the Youth Division.

There are additional rules for the Live Release Awards.

Tournament Rules


The Sport Fishing Tournament is open to the public. There is no entry fee. Charter boat captains are eligible. Weighmasters are eligible to enter, provided their fish are weighed in at a weighing station other than their own.


All fish except those caught beyond the three-mile limit in the Atlantic Ocean entered in the Tournament must be caught within the boundaries of the State of Delaware. Any fish caught outside the three mile territorial sea must be landed in a vessel leaving from a Delaware port and returning to a Delaware port.


All fish entered in the tournament must be weighed at an official Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Station.


All fish entered in the tournament must be caught in a sporting manner with hook and line. No other person may touch the rod or line until the fish is brought within the grasp of the mate.


All scales used to weigh in fish must be certified yearly by the Delaware Division of Weights and Measures (Department of Agriculture 302-698-4500).


All fish entered in the tournament must meet the minimum weight requirement as set up for this year’s tournament.


No smallmouth bass will be recognized from Kent or Sussex Counties unless Division of Fish and Wildlife qualified personnel examine and approve the catch.


A fish will not be recognized as a state record unless qualified personnel from the Division of Fish and Wildlife approve the catch. In case no Division personnel are available at the time of the weigh-in, the angler must save the entire fish for examination and approval at the earliest convenient time for the Division. For potential State Record Fish verification call 302-735-2960 or 800-523-3336.


In the case of a tie for the largest fish of the year or a new state record, both fish will be recognized.


To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds, the replacement must weigh at least 2 ounces more than the existing record. To replace a record for a fish weighing 25 pounds or more, the replacement must weigh at least one-half of 1 percent more than the existing record. Example: at 100 pounds the additional weight required would be 8 ounces. Any catch that exceeds the existing record by less than the amount required to defeat the record will be considered a tie.


For a potential state record fish to be recognized, the reel must be operated manually by the angler.


The Tournament Director reserves the right to disqualify any entry.


All entry forms must be filled out completely and in a legible manner by the weighmaster. The signed forms should be mailed in by the angler.


The tournament runs from January 1 – December 31. No entry forms for the previous tournament year will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. January 31.


Citations will be only issued for dead Snakehead, Flathead Catfish and Blue Catfish provided anglers have them measured for both length and weight at an official weigh station. Invasive species are not eligible for live release awards.


Only one saltwater award and one freshwater award will be issued to any one individual during the tournament year; although, anglers may apply for and receive multiple citations within a year.


Special citations will be issued upon approval of the Tournament Director in the case of unusual catches or extenuating circumstances. If the weigh station feels the catch is rare or unusual, an entry form should be submitted for approval. All decisions by the Director on unusual species will be final.


Citations will be awarded for released white or blue marlin. Fill out the standard entry form except for length, weight, and girth and include a signature and telephone number of a witness to the catch other than the angler and captain. Any marlin kept for taxidermy also will be eligible for Tournament entry provided a taxidermist receipt is enclosed with the entry form. Marlin retained for any purpose other than mounting will not be eligible for entry in the Tournament.


Anglers that receive adult division Tournament citations for five different species, no more than two of which can be Live Release Awards, within one calendar year will be recognized as Delaware Elite Anglers. Both saltwater and freshwater Tournament species, or any combination thereof, are eligible. Once an angler achieves “Elite” status, he/she will receive a plaque commemorating their accomplishment. Anglers that achieve “Elite” status may continue to participate in the Sport Fish Tournament, but will not be eligible for additional Elite Angler plaques in subsequent years.


The Tournament Director reserves the right to disqualify any weigh station if the Tournament rules are not observed.


Hybrid striped bass will only be recognized for entry when caught in non-tidal water.


Youth Division applies to anglers age 15 and under that meet the associated minimum size or length eligibility requirements. All Delaware Sport fishing rules apply except for rule 19, as catches awarded under the reduced minimum size requirements of the youth division are not eligible Elite Angler consideration.


The State of Delaware assumes no responsibility in the certification of a catch for consideration by the International Game Fish Association or any record keeping body other than the Delaware Sportfishing Tournament. If the angler wishes to qualify his/ her catch for consideration in some other tournament, it is the responsibility of the angler to insure that his catch and weigh-in meets the appropriate criteria. The Delaware Sportfishing Tournament makes no distinction based on line classes or sex of the angler or fly versus conventional fishing gear.


Call 302-735-2960 for tournament information. Call 800-523-3336 on weekends or holidays to coordinate state record verification.

Live Release Awards

A list of eligible species and minimum lengths can be found in the Delaware Fishing Guide or on-line. Applications for Live Release Awards may be picked up at any Sport Fishing Tournament Weigh Station. They are also available on-line.

To qualify, an angler must follow the general rules of the Sport Fishing Tournament, as well as the following:


The eligible species must meet the minimum qualifying length. Measurements vary by type of fish and must be verified by a witness.


The fish must be released immediately after measuring.


Fish retained for any reason other than obtaining a valid length measurement are not eligible.


Billfish released alive are eligible for either the Live Release Award or the Sport Fishing Tournament Award, whichever one the angler chooses.


Recipients of live release awards will be eligible for one freshwater live release award and one saltwater live release award per year, but may receive multiple citations in either category.


Applications for live release awards must be submitted to the Division of Fish and Wildlife within 30 days of the catch.


The entry form for live releases must include information on both the angler and a witness to the actual measurement and live release of the fish.


No fish entered for a Live Release Award will be eligible for consideration as a State record fish.