Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Paul Haertel 2nd VP JCAA read on fluke regs ...



Below are the options that were just released today followed by my comments.




Size Limit (inches)

Bag Limit

Open Season

# days open

2012 regs



May 5 – September 28





May 11 – September 4





May 18 – September 16





May 24 – September 22





May 25 – October 2





May 18 – September 26





May 1 – September 12



Committee preferred option - #2




      In 2012 the option that was favored by the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council Fluke Committee Members was for a 170 day season with an 8 fish bag limit and an 18” size limit. However, a slight majority of the public spoke in favor of reducing the season to 147 days with a bag limit of only 5 fish so that the size limit could be lowered to 17 ½”.

The commercial representatives, who outnumber the recreational representatives on the

Council then made a motion to favor that alternative and it became law despite the fact

that our recreational representatives voted against it.

     I attended the advisors meeting last week the NJMFC committee now favors

reducing last years season length an additional 25 days. I spoke in favor of increasing the size limit to 18” so that we could have a longer season but I was in the minority. The option I liked best would have been for a season that ran from 5/4-9/29 with an 18” size limit and a 5 fish bag limit. That would have resulted in a 149 day season. Despite the fact that this option was approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council, it was removed from the list of those that will make it to the public hearing. This is due to concerns from the majority of advisors and council members present that a season that long might result in us exceeding our quota.

     The majority of those at the advisors meeting were in favor of keeping the size limit at

17 ½” with a bag limit of 5.  Most favored the option that would do that while keeping

the season open though 9/22. However, some representatives who were mostly from the

southern part of the State or back bay fishermen requested an earlier opening to the

season. There is also a possibility that after all the states have set their regulations, the

ASMFC might allow New York and New Jersey to further relax their regulations if there

appears that there might me a coast wide estimated underage. Most advisors spoke

against utilizing it if it became available for fear of it causing us to exceed our quota. I

urged the council to take a least partial advantage of it if it becomes available. I

mentioned that we are more likely to underfish our quota this year as there will be far less

participation. This is due to the fact that many of our marinas, private boats and coastal

homes were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

    The Council’s preferred option is for a season from 5/18-9/16. It will be hard to

change that unless a big majority of us show up at the Council meeting to support a

longer season or at least one that extends the season further into September. It should be

 noted that in prior years that we would have had to give up 2-3 days in May to gain one

day in September. This year their statistics show that it would be a one for one swap.

     I also asked if there could be any options could be developed that would allow us to

return to an 8 fish bag limit. I was told that there was insufficient data to increase the bag

limit this year with any of the options. I then requested that data be gathered so that we

might be able to increase the bag limit in the future.

     Below are some of the points that I made in support of the longer season. I intend to

bring them up again at the Council meeting:


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 such as stripers, sea bass, and blackfish. This may put undue pressure on these species as well as others and cause us to exceed our quotas for some of them.  We urge you to consider the effects that a shorter season for one species may have on other species.


2.)  It is imperative that we have a fluke season that will extend well into the fall because the other species that we normally fish for then will be closed. More specifically, blackfish will either be closed or there may be a limit of just one. 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 further into the fall 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.


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 in some recent years.


4.) A longer season is better for the economy simply because it gives everyone regardless of whether they are surfcasters, private boaters or charter and party 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 the early fall. This is particularly true this year as shore area businesses struggle to recover from the hurricane.


5.) 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.


6.) 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 numerous fluke trips for the NJ volunteer anglers survey. I might have caught 5 or 6 fluke between 17 ½” and 18” the entire season.  Giving up many additional days of fishing just to be able to keep an occasional 17 ½” – 18”fluke is not worth it.


Regardless if you agree with me or not, it is important to attend the Council meeting and voice your opinions.  The fluke regulations are going to be voted on by the Council immediately after the public comment period. The meeting will be held at 4Pm on 3/7 at

the Galloway Township Library on Jimmie Leeds Rd. in Absecon.



Paul Haertel


NJOA representative

Berleley Striper Club member

NJBBA member

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