Delaware trout season set to open

February 27, 2021

As I mentioned last week, the Delaware 2021 trout season was due to open Saturday, March 6, but the COVID-19 virus has caused a change in the usual opening day and the location of the downstate trout fishing area. 

The trout season will now open Sunday, Feb. 28, when only youth under the age of 16 will be allowed to fish. The regular season will open Monday, March 1, with fishing hours on both days from 7 a.m. to a half-hour after sunset. Adults that accompany youths Feb. 28 are not allowed to fish.

The only pond that will be stocked in 2021 will be Newton Pond near Greenwood in Sussex County. More than 400 pounds of 12- to 13-inch rainbow trout will be stocked before opening day along with trophy trout weighing two pounds or more. Restocking will occur March 8 and 15.

I suspect Newton Pond was selected because of its size. I will be easier for fishermen to maintain the six-foot separation there than at the much smaller Tidbury Pond in Dover. I would plan to wear a mask.

You will need a Delaware General Fishing License and a Delaware Trout Stamp, unless you are exempt. These may be purchased online at by following the license link or at 85 licensing agents throughout the state. Exempt fishermen must have a free FIN number. This is available by calling 1-800-432-9228 or online at All funds collected from the trout stamp are used to support the 2022 trout stocking program.

Newton Pond is a put-and-take facility. The limit is six trout per person, and while catch-and-release is usually encouraged, the trout will not survive the summer heat, so take home what you catch and enjoy a fine fish dinner.

Bluefish public hearings

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are seeking public comment on the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. These will be the rules we will have to operate under for the foreseeable future when fishing for bluefish. Currently, we have a three-fish limit for shore or private-boat anglers, while those who fish from for-hire boats may keep five bluefish per day. You can access the document at Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment at the MAFMC website,, or go to the ASMFC web page,, for the draft amendment.

All the public hearings will be virtual. The Delaware, Maryland, Potomac River Fisheries Commission and Virginia hearing is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 25.  You can access the hearing by going to Public Hearing Registration and select the hearing you plan to attend. To use the audio, go to (VoIP). If you are half as confused as I am, call Dustin Colson Learning at 703-842-0714.

As always, I will be sending my comments via email to That way I have a copy of what I said, and a record of when I sent it and who I sent it to.

I have been fishing for a long time. Over those years, I have seen certain species come and go and have served on numerous advisory boards, both state and federal, that tried to regulate these fish. What I have learned is fish will do what fish will do.

Right now, there is a perceived crisis with striped bass. No doubt there are not as many being caught as there were a few years ago, but if you look back at the history of stripers, you will see a pattern of up-and-down populations. The same is true for bluefish.

I have no problem with conserving fish and cutting back on bag or quotas when populations drop, but habitat and climate have as much to do with fish survival as anything else. Of course, we puny humans cannot control those factors, yet we continue to fool ourselves into believing we can control the populations of fish in the ocean.

Fishing report

It looks like the nasty weather we suffered through in February may be moderating as we head into March. As this is written, the sun is shining and the air temperature is around 60 degrees. Unfortunately, the water in the ocean and bay finally dropped into the upper 30s, so it will take more warm weather before we get back to fishable water temperatures.

I have not heard of any fish caught from Delaware waters. Virginia had an open sea bass season in February, and on the days when the boats could sail on the ocean, they did very well.

No reports of white or yellow perch in our area lately. Both should begin running as soon as the water warms a bit more.


  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age. Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He has been the regional editor for several publications and was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine. Eric is the author of three books: Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits. He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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