In Delaware, anglers and boaters can take their choice of ocean, bays, canals, rivers and ponds. Stand-up paddleboarding is a growing pursuit in the beautiful Inland Bays, and canoeing trails abound along the waterways of the coastal areas near the Delaware Bay. Some serious fishing takes place on the headboats departing from southern beach towns, but there’s plenty of less-complicated fun to be had by the side of a stream, off the end of a pier, or in a kayak.
For more watersport adventures, be sure to explore the Delaware Outdoor Trail.
Brandywine Creek: Meandering through the heart of Northern Delaware’s mansion-filled “Chateau Country,” the Brandywine offers a beautiful setting for freshwater fishing. At Brandywine Creek State Park, anglers can find smallmouth bass, bluegill and crappie, and trout in Wilson’s Run, near the main entrance to the park. “Tubing” excursions and canoe trips down the river offer more immersive opportunities for fun.
Chesapeake & Delaware Canal: Delaware’s biggest man-made waterway is a popular destination for all persuasions of boaters, and offers a system of canal-side roads and trails for further exploration. Kayakers and canoeists can launch at Fort DuPont State Park -- once an active military base from the Civil War through World War II, the park now offers picnicking, fishing, and hiking. From here, the broad Chesapeake & Delaware stretches 14 miles into Maryland, featuring restaurants and marinas along the way.
St. Jones River: This serpentine stream meanders from the downtown area of the state capital in Dover to Bowers Beach, a scenic and serene town tucked amid natural beauty along the Delaware Bay. Boats can be launched at the St. Jones River Boat Ramp, and as you paddle, you’ll pass through the Little Creek and Ted Harvey Wildlife Areas, both scenic and natural settings. Other main access points allow trips of varying lengths: Lebanon Landing on Sorghum Mill Road in Dover; Ted Harvey Wildlife Area on Barkers Landing Road; and Bowers Beach’s Beach Public Access or Boat Ramp. For lunch, head back to Dover, which boasts plentiful local favorites (consider 33 West Ale House & Grill, The Greene Turtle, or Rice).
Trap Pond State Park: Boating among the magnificent stands of bald cypress trees – the northernmost stand in the nation -- is an unforgettable experience. Rowboats, pedal boats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent during the summer season, and the park interpreter hosts narrated pontoon boat tours on weekends and holidays, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The launching ramp here can accommodate small motorized boats for scenic excursions or some fishing, which features largemouth bass, pickerel, crappie, and bluegills. One of the streams that flows into Trap Pond has been marked as a wilderness canoe trail, giving boaters a chance to explore the marshland’s interior. For dinner, consider embracing some French flair at Bon Appetit in Seaford.
Lums Pond State Park: Boating and fishing are just the beginning at Lums Pond, which features affordable rentals of canoes, kayaks, sailboats, rowboats and paddle boats (available through Labor Day). There’s also biking trails, horseback riding and camping, and outdoor thrillseekers have probably never experienced anything like Delaware's new Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course, a tarzan-esque climbing challenge that's the first of its kind in the region. The course features a series of zip lines, Tarzan swings, rope ladders, bridges, swings, and trapezes, which typically take 2-3 hours to complete, and are suited to all skill levels.