Low-digit tag mystique coming to surf-fishing vehicles

By Dennis Forney — Cape Gazette

Aaron Dunphy makes a business of helping people buy and sell low-digit tags in Delaware. The most expensive tag ever sold in the state went for about $675,000 back in 2006. No. 6.

In the not-too-distant future, Dunphy hopes to see the low-digit tag mystique added to surf-fishing tags displayed by the more than 14,000 permit holders. That potential is only a pen stroke away from reality.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. John Atkins and many of his colleagues in the General Assembly this year would set up a process for producing and selling numbered surf-fishing tags. The dollars would go to bolster the budget of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

The legislation passed by unanimous votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Now it only awaits the signature of Gov. Jack Markell to set the process in motion.

Dunphy, who promoted the legislation, said he doesn’t see why the governor wouldn’t sign the bill. “It would be a windfall of money for the state. There are 14,000 or more tag holders now. I would envision something like an event at a big truck car show – maybe on the beach – where tags numbered 1 through 25 would be sold at live auction. The rest could be sold as part of an online auction – to avoid people saying that legislators or others got special tags for people as favors. I could easily imagine that No. 1 tag going for more than $10,000,” said Dunphy.

One version of the legislation gave DNREC the authority to sell the numbered tags for up to $500 each or by auction to the highest bidders. But Dunphy said determining procedures to be followed and other details will have to wait until the legislation is signed into law.

In years past, in the 1970s and ‘80s, surf fishing tags had numbers on them as do regular license tags. But in the years since, that system changed, and the tags now have a generic Jeep-like graphic on them without numbers. Permit holders can keep their same tags from year to year, but they have to renew their permits annually and affix new date stickers to the tags. “Older plates from the ‘70s and ‘80s would still be allowed, with the stickers,” said Dunphy. “But for the new tags, I would propose we bring back the numbers and start auctioning – in the first year – from 1 to 1,000.”

The legislation also specifies that numbers 1 through 200 would be reserved for vehicles registered in Delaware. Of course, this whole scenario adds one more wrinkle to the whole surf-fishing culture in Delaware. Stay tuned. I’ll be out of the office exploring the lower Chesapeake Bay aboard Nellie Lankford. If I run into any characters or special places along the way, I’ll post some pictures on my Barefootin’ blog. In the meantime, you all be good.

This article contains information from the Cape Gazette.