NJFMC to set Fluke Regs on March 4th - COMMENT NOW

by Paul Haertel
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2021 Newsletter)

The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Administration is accepting comments for the 2021 Recreational Summer Flounder Season. All minimum size and possession limit regulations will remain unchanged, including the Island Beach State Park and Delaware Bay special management areas. The possible options are as follows:

No other options are available for our 2021 fluke season. Please include the following in your comments:

  1. Your preferred option (1 or 2)
  2. The state or county you fish in or are from
  3. Describe the type of angler or general public category that best fits you (shore angler, private boat, party boat, charter boat owner/captain, or other type of fishing industry

Please make sure to include “2021 Summer Flounder Options” in the subject line when providing comments to the following email address:

NJMarineFishPublicComment@dep.nj.gov

The comment period will close on February 26, 2021 at 12:00 PM. Comments need to be received prior to that time to be included in this management decision at the March 4th, 2021 Marine Fisheries Council Meeting. When available the webinar information will be posted at this link.

JCAA encourages all those who wish to comment to do so via email and/or during the public comment period during the meeting. We also realize that some people have different opinions and we respect that as well. We know that some back-bay fishermen and others prefer the early season. Those who favor the early season believe that fluke bite better in their areas during May, they are anxious to get the season started and pointed out that there are often storms during September that ruin the fishing.

However, that being said JCAA member clubs strongly support Option 2 with the later season for the following reasons:

  1. We need to close the gap between when fluke season ends and sea bass season begins. With an early season there will be an 18-day gap with little for the inshore and shore-based anglers to fish for. With the later season this gap will be narrowed to just 9 days.
  2. In the spring there are plenty of other fish to fish for. Sea bass season opens on May 15th and good-sized striped bass, bluefish and black drum are available as well as a smattering of weakfish.
  3. The water in the ocean and even the bay is too cold for fluke to bite in May.
  4. Tackle stores, marinas and other businesses will suffer during the fall since other than being able to keep one blackfish there is not much to fish for unless you run offshore.
  5. With the later season we will have the opportunity to fish 124 days as opposed to 121 days with the earlier season. This could at least give us a little buffer if the ASFMC/MAFMC forces us to cut back again.
  6. Many fishermen like to target large and even trophy sized fluke as they migrate offshore and feed heavily stopping at reefs and wrecks along the way. There is a good chance of catching a true doormat during this time of the year.
  7. Most surf fishermen prefer to fish for fluke during the fall as their best opportunity to catch keeper fluke is during the mullet run.
  8. Polls were conducted on various Facebook fluke fishing groups and with over a thousand responses people favored the later season by a margin of more than 2-1. Even the Back-Bay Anglers group favored the later season by a margin of 30-18.
  9. After losing most of our fall season in 2017 we were able to extend it again in 2018. At that time, we agreed to begin the season on the Friday before Memorial Day (5/25) and ended it on 9/22. In 2019 we lost a day at the tail end of the season which ran from 5/24-9/21. Then in 2020 we lost two more days at the end of the season which ran from 5/22-9/19. It seemed that the Friday before Memorial Day had become our traditional opening day and we would like to keep it that way. It’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way and have a later season. Next year and for the next few years Memorial Day will come earlier again so we can start the season earlier then. To reiterate, we now have an opportunity to close the gap until sea bass season begins from 18 days to just 9 days. Let’s do it!
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