Summer Flounder Minimum Size Debate

A NJ Marine Fisheries Council Meeting is tomorrow March 7th at 5pm where the Fluke regulations for BOTH 2024 and 2025 will be set. The written comment period is over but anglers can attend in person at the Atlantic County Library – 306 E Jimmie Leeds Rd, Galloway, NJ or online via webinar.

As I shared in my 2/23/24 blog post, the front runner is Option 32 which will give us 3 fish at 18″ and the longest season at 145 days offering early spring and later fall fishing. But there are six other options. Over the past couple weeks I’ve seen a lot of comments and a large number mentioning the commercial minimum size at 14″ being a problem. So in regards to the summer flounder minimum size debate, I must share the follow info so others better understand.

The smaller minimum size at 14″ for the commercial sector is in place for a reason. The idea is to let commercial boats fish, catch their limit and then get off the water. The quicker they catch and finish up, the better for the stock. If they were forced to cull and toss back shorts (under lets say 18″ range) there would be a significantly more dead discard. So rather than throw back dead, why not allow harvest so it goes to their quota and best utilize the resource? As recreational anglers we have a much better ability because of our fishing methods to catch and cull. But we too have a release mortality issue. It is a major issue in the management of striped bass right now. It is a significant issue with fluke too. We have to be careful with structuring regulations so we don’t box ourselves out of a fishery by having our dead discard exceed our harvest. Also remember that the summer flounder fishery is about a 55% commercial and 45% recreational fishery with regards to quota. With an 80% commercial discard mortality rate, it would be a MAJOR needle mover if the commercial minimum size was increased from. So we (recreational anglers) must be careful what we wish for or complain about.

Author: FishHead.Greg

A Long Beach Island native with life long experience fishing and navigating the local waters, Greg is a distinguished Master Captain (the highest qualified operator license), holding a US Coast Guard Masters 50T Near Coastal License with Towing Endorsement. Raised in and now managing his family's bait and tackle business, Fishermans Headquarters (Since 1962, The Saltwater Fishing Bait & Tackle Experts) Greg is daily immersed in fishing. He is the Chief Contributor of (Long Beach Island's best fishing report blog) as well as the Admin for the shop's social media pages (on Instagram and Facebook). Be sure to follow!

One thought on “Summer Flounder Minimum Size Debate”

  1. Need a total band Commercially and Recreational for Fluke I’ve fished from Montauk to Cape May for Fluke for over 50 years and it’s the worst I’ve seen the last 5 years

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