Delaware's freshwater trout program is a self-supporting fishery – in selected streams in northern New Castle County, and in one pond each in Kent and Sussex counties – with the fishery funded from fees derived from the state's trout stamp program.
Fees paid for trout stamps are used to purchase trout from commercial hatcheries. Rainbow, brown and occasionally brook and golden trout are stocked in selected streams within two weeks of the spring opening date, and also stocked into the season. There also may be a supplemental fall stocking.
Since Delaware stream temperatures are marginal at best for trout survival in the summer, and no reproduction has been noted, stocked fish are meant to be taken, not caught and re-released.
The Division of Fish & Wildlife began requiring anglers to have trout stamps in the 1930s. Trout stamp art was first used in 1977.
Residents 16 to 64 years of age are required to have a Delaware Trout Stamp, which costs $4.20. Residents ages 12 through 15 years old are required to have a Young Angler Trout Stamp, which costs $2.10. Non-residents 12 years of age and older are required to have a Non-Resident Trout Stamp, which costs $6.20.
The 2016 Trout Stamp will feature a painting of a brown trout by Nicholas Markell of Hugo, Minn., who won the state contest. He will receive $250 for best in show and retains artist's rights for reproduction and sales of prints of the stamp.
The 2016 Trout Stamp judges were: Noel Kuhrt, Delaware Trout Association; Leon Spence, artist; DNREC Fisheries Section Biologists Mike Stangl and Des Kahn; and Steven Kendus, member, Delaware Advisory Council on Wildlife and Freshwater Fish.