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Proposed flounder and black sea bass regs- according to shep

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Lawrence Hajna, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, provided six options for flounder regulations that will be discussed in Toms River on Thursday at a meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council.


• 1: 18-inch minimum, eight-fish possession limit, April 28-Oct. 14 season, 170 days;


• 2: 18 inches, eight fish, May 5-Oct. 21 season, 170 days;


• 3: 18 inches, eight fish, April 21-Oct. 8 season, 171 days;


• 4: 18 inches, May 26-Oct. 28 season, 156 days;


• 5: 17 inches, five fish, May 5-Sept. 28 season, 147 days;


• 6: 17 inches, three fish, May 29-Sept. 1, 96 days.


Last year's regulations were 18 inches, eight fish, May 7-Sept. 25 season, 142 days.


Hajna said Thursday that these are options that will be presented to the Council as a result of preliminary meetings with what he described as "stakeholders." The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. at Toms River Township Meeting Room, LM Hirshblond Room, 33 Washington St.


Scott Albertson at Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Islands is one of what he described as a "fluke (flounder) council advisor." He said the six options were the survivors of an original 20.


He said Thursday he leans heavily toward option No. 5 with the 17.5-inch minimum, a reduction from 18 inches, and a marginal increase of five days.


"That half-inch means a lot," he said.


He said anglers will believe they would have a much better shot at taking home fish for the table and therefore would be more likely to go fishing more often. He called it "perceived value" for their time, effort and cost.


There were a multitude of reports virtually all of last season from partyboat and charterboat captains as well as fisherfolk about hooked flounder that were tantalizingly close to the 18-inch legal limit returned to the water alive.


Sefton favors a flounder option that allows for a later season: late September or into October. He says that would keep anglers going out longer.


Black sea bass proposals


Two options are proposed for recreational sea bass this year:


• 12.5-inch minimum, 25 daily possession limit, May 22-Oct. 11 and Nov. 1-Dec. 31 seasons, 204 days;


• 12.5-inch minimum, 25 bag limit, May 19-Oct. 14, and Nov. 1-Dec. 31, 210 days.


The latter option also would open the season from Jan. 1-Feb. 28, 2013 (with a bag limit of 15) to remain consistent with proposed federal water regulations.


Last year's regs were 12.5 inches, 25 limit, May 28-Sept. 11 and Nov. 1-Dec. 31, 168 days. So the main advantage is a total open season by way more than a month longer this year.


You can tell it is getting close to the March 1 opening of striped bass back bay and inlet season in New Jersey because area tackle shops have issued their bounties for first legal bass.


Albertson offers a $100 gift certificate for the first bass caught from the bank at Graveling Point or Pebble Beach down Radio Road from Scott's.


Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsman's Center in Absecon has a $200 gift certificate for first, $100 for second and $75 for third plus $100 each for first striper more than 20 pounds and first over 30. Last year, Showell weighed an 18.2-pound bass right after he opened for the day on March 1. Showell's contest is open to bass caught anywhere in the state.


Sefton has a neat prize for the first legal bass to be weighed at Captain Howard's. He not only has a $75 gift certificate, but he has a camera system that enables him to emblazen a photo of the winning angler with the winning fish on a T-shirt, which he will present for bragging rights.


Rally in D.C. set for March 21


Here's another important calendar date. The "Keep Fishermen Fishing" rally is scheduled for Washington on March 21 for U.S. coastal recreation and commercial saltwater anglers. A similar rally was held in 2010 and was attended by thousands from all over the country. Details to come.


* * *


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I like option 5 for the flounder, but I would also like to see the season start a little later to end later.

As far as the sea bass regs I would like to see the second option because that would allow that extra weekend in October instead of ending on a Thursday. Can't wait for the fluke season to start. :D

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I like option 5 for the flounder, but I would also like to see the season start a little later to end later.

As far as the sea bass regs I would like to see the second option because that would allow that extra weekend in October instead of ending on a Thursday. Can't wait for the fluke season to start. :D


As far as fluke are concerned, you can't have your cake and eat it too in this world!


I would take Option 1 or 2, preferably Option 2. Early May start to later-October.;)

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I believe Option 5 should be 17.5", not 17"


I believe you are correct- from the APP today:


The options are as follows:


Option 1 is for a 170 day season from April 28 to Oct. 14 with an 18-inch size limit and an 8-fish bag limit; option 2 is for a 170 day season from May 5 to Oct. 21 with an 18-inch size limit and an 8-fish bag limit; option 3 is for a 171 day season from April 21 to Oct. 8 with an 18-inch size limit and an 8-fish bag limit; option 4 is for a 156 day season from May 26 to Oct. 28 with an 18-inch size limit and an 8-fish bag limit; option 5 is for a 147 day season from May 5 to Sept. 28 with a 17.5-inch size limit and a 5-fish bag limit; and option 6 is for a 96 day season with a 17-inch size limit and a 3-fish bag limit.



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Ten Reasons to support the fluke option that will allow us to fish for fluke from May 5th – October 21st with an 18” size limit and a bag limit of 8 fish.

by Paul Haertel



1.) Having a longer season is most beneficial for our various fisheries. When the fluke season is closed many fishermen are forced to target other species. On the front end of the season when the fluke season is closed, I now see party and charter boats that rarely used to fish for stripers fishing for them on a daily basis. At times they absolutely hammer them and stripers cannot sustain this type of pressure for too much longer. Then on the back end of the season when fluke season is closed and particularly when blackfish and sea bass seasons are also closed, many boats are fishing offshore wrecks, targeting cod and pollock, two species that are just starting to make a nice comeback. Again, it is doubtful that these species can withstand this added pressure.


2.) It is imperative that we have a fluke season that will extend well into October because the other species that we normally fish for then will be closed. More specifically, blackfish will be closed from 9/1 to 10/17. Then from 10/18 to 11/15 we will only be able to keep one blackfish. Compounding the issue further it the fact that fishing for sea bass is expected to be closed from 10/15 to 11/1. In recent years stripers have not been arriving in force until November so if the fluke season is not open into late October there will be virtually nothing for surfcasters and inshore fishermen to fish for. If there is nothing to fish for in our state at that time, some of us will fish in others states or not fish at all. It is particularly important for surfcasters to be able to fish for fluke late into the fall as many of us believe that our best chance of catching a couple keepers occurs during the fall mullet run. The Governor’s Cup Fishing Tournament is in October. This tournament usually attracts approximately 1000 fishermen who pay $25. each to enter. The proceeds go towards important issues such as providing how to fish seminars, kids fishing events and purchasing special handicapped wheel chairs that are capable of riding on the beach. It is sad that in most recent years, fluke had to be removed from the tournament due to the season being closed and now for the first time since its inception blackfish will not be eligible because the season is closed.



3.) The fall is a time when many of those who target doormats have a good chance at success. The big fish have fattened up over the summer and are on the feed as they stop at wrecks and rough spots as they migrate offshore. As is the case with surf fishermen, this traditional fishery has been taken away from the trophy fishermen for a number of years.


4.) Keeping the size limit and bag limits consistent from year to year will result in more accurate statistics. We have been fighting for better fisheries science and this is one way that will help.


5.) Keeping the size and bag limits the same is better for law enforcement. Changing size

and bag limits virtually every year confuses many of the more casual fishermen. Our conservation officers end up spending a lot of time explaining the new regulations to those individuals. Our C.O.s try to be fair with everyone which is why they take the time to do this. However, with the limited number of C.O.s that we have it would be better if they had more time to track down poachers and other violators rather than having to take the time to explain new regulations.


6.) A longer season is better for the economy simply because it gives everyone regardless of whether they are surfcasters, private boaters or charter boat fishermen more days to fish. For example consider the impact it might have on tackle stores, who cater to surf fishermen, if their customers are left with nothing to fish for in October.


7.) Weather is more of a factor when the seasons are shorter. A sustained period of bad weather can be disastrous during a shortened season. A longer season provides everyone with more of an opportunity to reschedule trips that had been cancelled due to bad weather.


8.) Higher bag limits are better. Dropping the bag limit to 5 fluke might hurt participation somewhat. People spend a great deal of money for gas, bait and tackle. Though the days where people catch their limits of 8 might be infrequent, many realize that after a number of slow days they might have a really good day when they do in fact limit out. Also, once the bag limit is dropped it becomes difficult to raise it again in the future.


9.) A 17 ½” – 18” fluke is really hard to catch. I was out on the water many days last year and in fact logged in 182 trips for the NJ anglers survey. I might have caught 5 or 6 fluke between 17 ½” and 18” the entire season. I would much rather be able to keep 8 larger fluke on good days rather than keeping a few extra small ones during the season. In reality there are a lot of short fluke around but there are not too many in the 17 ½” – 18” range, rather it is public perception that there are. Many fishermen return home from a fishing trip and might honestly believe that the bulk of their shorts were 17 1/2” to 18” but in actuality many were much smaller. I guarantee you if we drop the size limit to 17 ½” then these same fishermen will be saying all they caught were 17” – 17 ½” fish. Ok, so you think I am wrong on this and there were really an abundance of 17 ½” to 18” fish around last year? That would be even better because by this year they will be all 18” plus fish and we will be able to keep them anyway.


10.) Enacting the option with a 17 ½” size limit will not only result in us having to reduce the bag limit from 8 to 5 but will reduce the number of days we are allowed to fish from 170 to 147. It is simply not worth losing 3 fish from our bag limit and 23 days of fishing just to be a able to keep a few more 17 ½” – 18” fish during the season.









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I prefer option 5.


-Sept 28 is plenty of time for doormats. The bigger fluke come in the surf and inshore structure in early Sept and are heading out in early October.

-The 23 days in October probably equates to less than half of that with historic October weather. Half the month is usually a blowout. if you want to be worried about weather, October is the month to worry about in NJ.

-While a shorter season does put some additional pressure on stripers from the head boats, most of the pressure is not occuring in October. As the bass runs have been later and later each fall, most of the pparty boat ressure is in November and December even. (see November 2011 IBSP party boat striper fishing for example)

-Most rec boaters are not limiting out with 8 fluke at 18" these days. 5 fish with a lesser size of 17.5 allows for more fish to be brought home during the year, on average, I believe. Plus, early season and mid summer the fluke are smaller, at least in the ocean, allowing take home of 17.5" fish vs. 18".

-17.5 will result in less mortality of rec caught fluke. The lower the size limit, the less dead fluke are being thrown back after being gut hooked or mishandled. Better for health of fishery in general.

- Agreed-There were not an abundance of 17.5-18" fish around last year, but there were an abdundance of fish in the 15-16.5" range, and also greater than 20". The 17.5-18" range is not a "slot". You can keep 17.5" ,and any greater, fish. I think there will be alot of fish around 17.5" this year, including in the surf.

-Regs always change. It's our duty as fishermen to know what the size limits are. Most anglers would welcome a drop in size. Most anglers in the surf are definitely not limiting out with 18" fluke. If they do get confused and use 18", it's their mistake/loss!

-probably 30% of the boats are out of the water around Labor day in NJ, and boating participation is way down after September.

-Finally, #5 is the best option or the average rec boater, and surfcaster. #4 is best for head/charter boats.



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Mesh size of their gear, size of the fish that is generally sold.


What about the hook and line commercial guys? No need for this 14 inch limit. I met a guy from NC this past year who has a commercial license down there, and they gig their fluke. 14 inch size limit and something like 300 lbs a day. I guess a guys gotta make a dollar, no matter if it's a shared public resource or not.

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