Flounder season concludes


The New Jersey summer flounder season was officially closed as of Sept. 4. New Jersey recreational anglers’ harvest of summer flounder (fluke) was the current 18-inch minimum size and six-fish possession limit.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) are responsible for the coastwide management of summer flounder.

Due to an overharvest of its 2008 recreational target, New Jersey was required to take a 4 percent reduction in 2009. This sounds like simple math, but is it accurate or ridiculous?

I do know we need some type of management system in place for all marine species. How can we come up with an accurate quota?

For example, Marine Fisheries Service and Mid-Atlantic Council staff have acknowledged the abundant drawbacks of the current state-by-state system and have recommended standard coastwide measures for summer flounder with a bag limit of two fish at 20 inches and a season from May 1 to Sept. 30.

Is this the future for all species? What will this do to the recreational industry? Anglers can only come up with more questions than answers.

Current regulations have put a major stress on the charter and tackle industry, not just in the Garden State, but Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland shared the pain. There are plenty of fish to fight, but not many keepers. To make matters worse, the limits put in place made fluke fishing an all-day job just to get two or three fish over 18 inches, never mind a six-fish limit.

On the New York side of the channel, the limit for 2009 was 21 inches, compared to 20.5 inches last year, and the bag limit at two fish, down from four.

These regulations kept the traffic down in the Raritan Bay, making fluke not worth fishing. Captains on the New York side could not get anglers to show up and fish summer flounder. Two fish at 21 inches is not only hard work and almost impossible, but not worth the time and money.

Have these regulations taken the fun out of fishing? In Long Island, fluke boats targeted different species such as porgies and offshore wreck and squid trips to draw in patrons.

In the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, anglers may keep only one summer flounder per person, per day, minimum of 16.5 inches in total length.

In Maryland’s coastal bays and in the state waters of the Atlantic, anglers may keep three summer flounder per person per day, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches. So why all the fuss over an ugly, flat, cross-eyed slimy fish who lives in the mud? Fluke fishing is a fun, fast-action fish to catch for recreational anglers. Most fluke are sexually mature in their third year and

spawn in the fall or early winter while migrating offshore. The number of eggs a female fluke has is directly proportioned to her size, with large fish being able to release as many as 4 million eggs in a single season. Larvae and post-larvae drift and migrate inshore, entering coastal and estuarine nursery areas from October to May.

It all starts with a fluke. Summer flounder regulations may pave the way for all species in our near future.

Fluke are highly prized food fish sought by both sport and commercial anglers. They are typically one of the top three fish taken in the sport fishery each year. Fluke also represent one of the three most important finfish in New Jersey’s commercial fishery, with a value of more than $2 million annually.


he commercial fishery is also controlled

by the coast-wide management plan. Entry into the fishery is limited and vessels must abide by gear restrictions, a size limit and state landing quotas.

Stay updated and log on to www.njsaltwaterfisherman. com for all upcoming 2010 regulations, fishery management meetings and quotas.

Fish on!