Discovering the Biggest Fish in Delaware: What are the Main Targets for Anglers?

Delaware, the second smallest state in the United States, may not be widely known for its diverse marine life. However, the waters surrounding this coastal state are home to an array of fascinating fish species, including some of the largest and most impressive creatures found in the Atlantic Ocean. In this article, we delve into Delaware’s aquatic realm and uncover the largest fish species that roam its waters.

1. Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus)

One of Delaware’s most iconic and sizable fish species is the Atlantic sturgeon. These ancient creatures, which can reach lengths of up to 14 feet and weigh over 800 pounds, have inhabited Delaware’s estuaries and rivers for thousands of years. Unfortunately, due to overfishing and habitat loss, the Atlantic sturgeon is currently listed as endangered. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore their populations.

2. Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharias taurus)

While Delaware’s coastal waters may not be associated with traditional shark hotspots, the sand tiger shark is a prominent resident. These fearsome-looking creatures are known for their jagged teeth that protrude even when their mouths are closed. Growing up to 10 feet in length and weighing around 350-450 pounds, the sand tiger shark is a formidable presence. Although they can be spotted along Delaware’s coastline, they are generally non-aggressive toward humans.

3. Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)

The Delaware Bay and adjacent offshore waters provide an important feeding ground for the mighty bluefin tuna. This highly migratory species can reach astonishing sizes, with individuals surpassing 1,000 pounds and lengths of 10 feet or more. Bluefin tuna are prized by recreational anglers for their strength and are also highly valued in commercial fisheries. Conservation measures are being implemented to ensure sustainable management of this remarkable species.

4. Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)

Delaware’s waterways are renowned for their excellent striped bass fishing opportunities. These prized game fish can grow to impressive lengths, with some specimens exceeding 50 inches and weighing over 50 pounds. Striped bass undertakes seasonal migrations, moving between freshwater and saltwater environments to spawn and feed. Delaware’s coastal estuaries, such as Delaware Bay, serve as vital staging areas for these majestic fish.

5. Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas)

While not as commonly associated with Delaware’s waters as other shark species, the bull shark has occasionally been observed in the state’s estuaries and lower reaches of rivers. Known for its ability to tolerate both saltwater and freshwater environments, the bull shark can venture into brackish waters, including the Delaware River. These powerful sharks can reach lengths of up to 11 feet and weigh several hundred pounds.

6. Bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix)

Bluefish are famous for their aggressive feeding habits and powerful fights, making them a popular target for anglers. They can grow to impressive sizes with adults ranging from 20 to 30 inches in length and between 5 and 20 pounds. The voracious predator is commonly found along Delaware’s Atlantic coast and in Delaware Bay. They have sharp teeth and the ability to strike at fast-moving prey, such as schools of baitfish. Anglers often target bluefish using a variety of lures and bait, and their strong fight and acrobatic leaps make for an exhilarating angling experience. Bluefish are highly migratory, and their presence in Delaware’s waters can vary.

Delaware Fishing: Interesting Facts

Knowing about the biggest fish in Delaware is a great start. However, you just know some facts before actually coming here to try your fishing skills. Consider the following:

Prime Fishing Locations

Delaware offers a variety of prime fishing locations, including the Delaware Bay, Atlantic Ocean coastline, inland ponds, rivers, and estuaries. Each area presents unique angling opportunities and a chance to catch a diverse range of fish species.

Striped Bass Capital

Delaware is often referred to as the “Striped Bass Capital of the World” due to its excellent striped bass fishing. The Delaware Bay serves as a crucial spawning ground and feeding area for these prized game fish.

Annual Fishing Tournament

The Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament is a highly anticipated event that runs annually from January 1st to December 31st. Anglers can participate in various categories, including both freshwater and saltwater species, and have the chance to win prizes for their catches.

Weakfish and Croaker

Delaware’s coastal waters are known for their populations of weakfish (also known as sea trout) and croaker. These species provide exciting angling opportunities, with weakfish known for their spirited fights and croaker valued for their delicious taste.

Offshore Fishing

Anglers in Delaware can also venture offshore for deep-sea fishing adventures. Tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and other pelagic species can be targeted by anglers seeking an adrenaline-pumping angling experience.

Recreational Fishing License

To fish in Delaware’s waters, anglers aged 16 and older are required to possess a valid Delaware fishing license. Licenses can be obtained online or from authorized vendors, and fees vary depending on residency and duration of the license.


Delaware’s marine ecosystems are home to an array of fascinating fish species, including some of the largest and most impressive creatures in the Atlantic Ocean. From the prehistoric Atlantic sturgeon to the awe-inspiring bluefin tuna, these fish not only contribute to the ecological balance of the region but also offer recreational and commercial fishing opportunities. It is crucial that we continue to protect and conserve Delaware’s waters to ensure the survival of these magnificent fish species for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

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