Fishing

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A woman in a fishing hat smiles as she holds an American Shad caught from a boat on the Delaware River. NPS Photo
Image: A smiling woman wearing a fishing hat and sun glasses sits in a boat holding an adult American Shad of approximately 14 inches in length, with the boats motor, the river, and the tree-lined riverbank in the background. Fishing in the park is a wonderful way to relax when done safely and responsibly. Please follow all state and federal fishing regulations.

Photo Courtesy of Rich Evans

 

Fishing in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Middle Delaware National Scenic River allow fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and customary and traditional use, and regulate fishing to ensure that it is managed in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources. For more information on how fishing regulations work in national parks, go to the NPS Fish and Fishing website.

 
Logo depicting life jacket and the words 'Wear It'

Fishing Safety and You

Your safety is a big deal for us. We want you to go home with memories of a great day on the river. The Delaware River might appear calm, but even here, we must be safe and treat the river with a healthy dose of respect. Underwater obstacles can be a danger no one sees until it is too late. Having your life jacket on can save your life, or the live of someone you care about. Be smart and Wear It.

We Recommend:

  • Life jackets be worn by all watercraft occupants when on the river. Your safety is priceless.

Mandatory Safety Policy:

  • Children age 12 and younger MUST WEAR a life jacket when on board any vessel.
  • Life jackets must be worn in vessels less than 16 feet in length between November 1, and April 30.
 

Licenses

A valid fishing license is required to fish in the park. Visitors fishing within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic River must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State within whose boundaries the park or portion thereof is located. Anglers can fish from shoreline to shoreline in the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey with a license from either state. Otherwise, the following applies:

  • If you are fishing on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in a stream, pond, or lake in the park, then you will require a New Jersey fishing license.
  • If fishing in Pennsylvania streams, ponds, or lakes in the park, then you need a Pennsylvania fishing license.
  • Children under 16 years of age do not require a license.
  • New Jersey offers two free fishing days per year.
  • Pennsylvania offers two free days, also. Check the different dates to take full advantage of the fun.
  • Licenses are valid January 1 through December 31 in New Jersey and December 1 through December 31 in Pennsylvania; fees vary depending on fish stamps. Check state websites for details.
  • Licenses cannot be purchased in the park, but you can find information on where to pick up a license, or purchase a New Jersey license online at New Jersey Division of Fish and Widlife website. Pennsylvania license information or online license purchases can be found at huntfishpa.gov.
 
Image of a fisherman in a baseball hat standing in a bass boat and holding a large mouth bass
Image of a man wearing a baseball hat and sun glasses smiles while standing in a flat bottom boat holding a large mouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Fishing is a rewarding break from the every day when safety is part of the fun. Anglers have an important role to play in fish conservation efforts.

Photo Courtesy of Rich Evans

Fishing Regulations

State fishing regulations guide fishing within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River unless otherwise superceded by 36 CFR §2.3 – FISHING of the Superintendent's Compendium. Please familiarize yourself with it to avoid any confusion about fishing within the park.

The fishing regulations apply to all “finfish” found in the park. Other taxa, including amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and addressed by NPS regulations governing “wild life” (36CFR2.2).

These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States







Important Note about Bait:

Pursuant to 36 CFR §7.71(g), Sub-Sections (d)(1) and (d)(2) of 36 CFR §2.3 are not applicable except:

  • The taking of reptiles, amphibians, and/or other aquatic species, not defined as fish is prohibited

  • The taking or attempted taking of any species by hand is prohibited

  • The use of live crayfish, clams, mussels, reptiles, or amphibians as fish bait is prohibited, unless it is a commercially produced, preserved, and packaged product (non-living)
  • Introducing wildlife, fish, or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets
  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife, or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights

The following are prohibited pursuant to 36 CFR 2.3 (d)(3) –(d)(8):

  • (3) Chumming or placing preserved or fresh fish eggs, fish roe, food, fish parts, chemicals, or other foreign substances in fresh waters for the purpose of feeding or attracting fish in order that they may be taken
  • (4) Commercial fishing, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law
  • (5) Fishing by the use of drugs, poisons, explosives, or electricity
  • (6) Digging for bait, except in privately owned lands
  • (7) Failing to return carefully and immediately to the water from which it was taken a fish that does not meet size or species restrictions or that the person chooses not to keep. Fish so released shall not be included in the catch or possession limit: Provided that at the time of catching the person did not possess the legal limit of fish
  • (8) Fishing from motor road bridges, from or within 200 feet of a public raft or float designated for water sports, or within the limits of locations designated as swimming beaches, surfing areas, or public boat docks, except in designated areas

Special Fishing Closures within the park

No fishing is allowed in the following areas:

  • Dingmans Creek, within George W. Childs Park including foot bridges and observation platforms

  • Dingmans Creek, from the top observation platform to the eastern end of the Dingmans Falls Visitor Center parking lot from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily when the Visitor Center is in operation

Why Regulations?

The link below explains why parks have fishing regulations and how they relate to state laws protecting fishing on public lands

How Regulations Work - Fish & Fishing (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

 

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters


The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River Fish Consumption Advisories: New Jersey

Delaware River from NY Border to Delaware Water Gap - Warren/Sussex Counties

Species General Population (2,3) High Risk Population (1,2,3)
American Eel One meal per week One meal per month
Channel Catfish No Restrictions One meal per month
Muskellunge No Restrictions One meal per month
Smallmouth Bass One meal per week One meal per week
Walleye One meal per week One meal per week
White Sucker One meal per month One meal per month


Delaware River at Montague, NJ - Sussex County, NJ

Species General Population (2,3) High Risk Population (1,2,3)
American Eel One meal per month One meal per month
Smallmouth Bass One meal per week One meal per month
Walleye One meal per week One meal per week
White Sucker One meal per week One meal per week


1. High-Risk Individuals include infants, children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and women of childbearing age.
2. One meal is defined as an eight-ounce serving.
3. Eat only the fillet portions of the fish. Use proper trimming techniques to remove fat, and cooking methods that allow juices to drain from the fish (e.g., baking, broiling, frying, grilling, and steaming). See text for full description.



A full listing of New Jersey fish consumption advisories can be found on the NJ Department of Environmental Protection website.


Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River Fish Consumption Advisories: Pennsylvania

Note: This includes feeder creeks to the Delaware River

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Fish Consumption Advisories - 2021

Water Body Area Under Advisory Species Meal Frequency Contaminant
Delaware River Milford to Delaware Water Gap Rock Bass, Walleye 2 Meals per month Mercury
Delaware River Milford to Delaware Water Gap Smallmouth Bass 1 Meal per month Mercury
Broadhead Creek Entire Basin Rock Bass 2 Meals per month Mercury
Bushkill Creek Entire Basin American Eel, All Suckers (White Sucker, etc.) 2 Meals per month Mercury



A full listing of Pennsylvania fish consumption advisories can be found on the PA Fish and Boat Commission website.


To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

 
Students working with NPS staff to identify and remove Rusty Crayfish from one of the parks streams. NPS Photo
Students work with park Ecologist Rich Evans at Crayfish Camp to identify invasive Rusty Crayfish and document their findings for scientific purposes. This work aids the park in identifying areas of concern while inspiring and encouraging future ecologists and biologists of tomorrow.

NPS Photo

Aquatic Invasive Species

Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.

How You Can Help – Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers


The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River have their own unique problems with aquatic hitchhikers. We need the help of the public in identifying aquatic invasive species and taking proactive steps to minimize the threat they bring to the Delaware River Valley. Some important steps that visitors can take to help natural habitats within the park are the following:

  • Clean all plant material off watercraft and personal equipment when you leave the river or stream (Don't take it with you)
  • Don't use live bait fish or crayfish within the park (Only use pre-packaged sterile bait, crayfish, etc.)
  • Fish only in designated fishing areas (No fishing within 200 feet of all boat launches and swimming beaches)
  • Never release live invasive fish like Northern Snakehead into the Delaware River
  • Learn about specific threats to local trout streams, such as the Rusty Crayfish and what you can do to help stop them

Want to know more about invasive plants and NPS efforts to get rid of them?


Find out how the National Park Service works to protect parks from invasive plants.

 
An image of a brook trout swimming in the wild
Brook Trout are one of the many fish species found within the park. Please be a responsible angler and follow all state and federal fishing regulations.

NPS Photo

Looking for a Place to Fish?


There are many places to fish within the park and you might be wondering where are the best places for me and my family to fish. Well, we've made a helpful tool for you to find the fish you are looking for. Download our Places to Fish brochure to find the spot that's right for you.

 

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the National Park Service's Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing

Last updated: June 9, 2021

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Mailing Address:

1978 River Road
Bushkill , PA 18324

Phone:

570 426-2452

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