DNREC? eminds hunters about baiting prohibition

DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers between April 6-12 made 1,254 contacts with anglers, hunters, boaters and the general public, including 110 vessel boardings for boating safety and fishing regulation compliance checks. Officers responded to 41 complaints and issued 26 citations.

Citations issued included: three citations for operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway on a state wildlife area; two citations for damaging state property; five citations for hunting wild turkeys over bait; hunting with an unplugged shotgun; six citations for hunting without a license; three citations of possession of undersized largemouth bass; possession of undersized white perch; and illegal use of cast net in tidal water within 300 feet of a dam or spillway (1); as well as operating an unregistered vessel and no boating safety certificate.

The turkey hunting violations involved not having a required turkey hunter education course and carrying a loaded weapon in or on a motor vehicle.

Hunting over bait for game birds, including wild turkeys, is illegal in Delaware. Each of the five individuals cited this week for hunting wild turkeys over bait was fined $342. An area is generally considered baited if grain or other feed has been placed as a lure or attraction for game birds.

With spring fishing season gearing up, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police reminded recreational anglers that it is now unlawful in Delaware to harvest or possess river herring — long a popular baitfish in the striped bass hook-and-line fishery — and that an alternate type of bait must be used. Signs giving notice of the fishery closure are posted at various fishing locations. Fines for illegal possession of river herring begin at $50 for a first offense, and increase to $100 to $500 for a second offense.

Also, as fish begin entering the spillways this spring, anglers are being reminded that using any type of net to catch fish in tidal water within 300 feet below a constructed dam or spillway on a tidal river, stream, canal, ditch or tributary is illegal, with the exception of using a landing net on a fish caught with hook and line.

Anglers are also being reminded that during spawning season for striped bass in Delaware, which began on April 1 and continues through midnight on May 31, it is unlawful for any person to take and retain any striped bass from the Nanticoke River or its tributaries, the Delaware River and its tributaries to the north of a line extending due east beginning at and including the south jetty at the mouth of the C&D Canal, or the C&D Canal or its tributaries. Anglers are required to practice catch-and-release fishing during this season, with no harvest allowed in these areas.

In addition, regulations require anglers fishing on any striped bass spawning ground during the closed spawning season with natural bait to use a non-offset circle hook. The Division of Fish & Wildlife recommends that circle hooks always be used when fishing natural baits because of their proven ability to reduce hook-and-release mortality for striped bass and other fish species. The circle hook’s design usually results in fish being hooked in the mouth, simplifying hook removal and reducing injury to the released fish, they said.

Most anglers are required to have a Delaware fishing license. Licenses are sold online, at the licensing office in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. For additional information on Delaware fishing licenses, call (302) 739-9918.

The public is encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling (302) 739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 1-800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx.