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TOMS RIVER - New Jersey's fluke fisherman will get to angle for the tasty flatfish on both Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council ruled Thursday.
Last year, anglers were angered when the season ended Sept. 4, before Labor Day.
Fishermen pushed the council to pick a season that included both holidays. The council chose from 12 options to stay within the state's quota for fluke, also called summer flounder.
Dozens of fishermen commented on the options, and the council chose the most popular one, May 29 through September 6. The season includes 101 days of fishing. Fishermen will be allowed six fish per day, with 18 inches being the minimum fish size.
Every year, the state uses a combination of bag limits, minimum fish sizes and days fishing to meet a quota divided among the East Coast states.
The 12 options had minimum fish sizes of 18 inches and 18.5 inches. A larger fish could result in more fishing days or more fish per day, but there was little support to raise the fish size since the great majority of fish are already being thrown back because they are too small.
The bag limit options ranged from four to six fish per day. Nobody wanted to have a bag limit under six.
That only left some flexibility with seasons. The options had them starting as early as May 4 and ending as late as Sept. 26.
A group of anglers pushed for Option 4, which would have run from June 26-Sept. 21.
"We want to be able to fish for fluke in September. In May and June we have stripers and blues, but there's not much in September," fisherman Paul Hartel said.
Brook Koeneke, operator of the Duke o' Fluke party boat out of Somers Point, pushed for both holidays.
"Any option that blocks us out of Memorial Day weekend is untenable. We need that early holiday," Koeneke said.
Anglers got both holidays in 2008 as the season ran from May 24 to Sept. 7, but the state was ordered to cut back harvests by 4.2 percent in 2009 due to over-fishing in 2008.
New Jersey anglers exceeded catches again in 2009, by 24 percent, but were only ordered a 1 percent reduction this year.
Some fishermen had a hard time believing figures read at the meeting showing excessive landings last year since the majority of fish caught were less than 18 inches and had to be thrown back.
"24 percent over?" questioned Belmar, Monmouth County, party boat captain Robert Quinn. "It rained the whole month of June, and the rest of the summer we threw everything back. You guys have to come up with something to help us out. If not, we'll be out of business and our children won't be able to fish for anything."
Marilyn Reingold, an angler from Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth County, urged the council to at least let children keep one fish under 18 inches just so they can go home with a fish.
That was as controversial as the meeting got, even though anglers are reporting more fluke than they have seen in years but will not get to catch more of them. Council member Patrick Donnelly said this saddened him because it shows anglers are so beaten down that they almost accept not being able to catch fish.
"A few years ago these meetings used to be contentious. We're so beat down. We're getting beat over the head with a stick, and we're happy if it's not too big of a stick," Donnelly said.
Ed Goldman, another council member, said he grew up when there was no fluke season. Anglers could fish for them at will.
"Nobody likes the options. I'd like no closed season. It's a pipe dream, but it's something I grew up with," Goldman said.
The council normally meets in Galloway Township, but to accommodate northern New Jersey fishermen, it hold its meeting in Toms River. The meeting drew a large crowd of northern New Jersey fishermen who normally do not attend. Chairman Gil Ewing said he would consider using different locations for the meetings in the future.
 

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I'll be happy when it includes Easter and Thanksgiving.
 

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Well the best option won given all things to consider(yes us rec guys have to take in account party/charter boat guys need those holidays)


Its just pathetic how things have gotten in just a few years Im shocked its gotten to the point where we are dealing with 18" and a short season. I can't even get keepers anymore. Im averaging 90:1 keeper ratio in the inlet last year.

I really wish the bay and ocean had different regulations like they have down in Maryland with the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic
 

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The season is actually shorter (fewer number of days) than last year, but due to where Memorial Day and Labor Day just happen to fall on the calendar this year, they are both in the season.

Presumably, at some point the fluke stock will reach whatever level the government decides is "rebuilt." My question is: can anyone give us a clue as to what will the regulations might look like when we get to that point? We are being saddled with super strict regulations now because the date for when it must be "rebuilt" is getting close and we still have ways to go to meet the stock target, right? So when we get there what will the rules be?
 

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so who wins


certainly not the south jersey back bay guys or locals that like to fish in their boats before all the summer clowns show up on the water

not our friends the surfcasters to the north (also locals) either looking for something to fish for in september and early october before the full run kicks with other species
 

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Call me a dumb *** or whatever you want to call me I don't care but does the every day Joe Shmo really take in that many fish each year to have this many rule changes and big brothers eye on us? I understand having a size limit and creel but why a season? I understand you really don't want someone to get to carried away having a so called lucky day catching 50 fish that are 10 inches. But why not say people can fish when they show till they leave? Shouldn't the quotas and size creels be put on the commercial boats? And all this **** about a license its not like there stocking for us. Doesn't seem like there cleaning the waters to much so what will be happening with the money if they do start a license? Some high priced scientist will get it just to say oh wait bla, bla, bla.... If there going to close a season on a fishery then close it for the commercial guys. If it's closed here and they know in advance ship out to another port set up shop for that season. Come back to NJ for the next season. I'm just sick and tired of it waiting year to year this change that change its all a bunch of bull ****. Sorry just needed to vent!!!! Have a great day!!!!
 

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bs

Everyone is just going to start keeping whatever they catch and fish year around with no closed seasons, enough is enough. Now they tell me i cant fish for fluke in the back unitll just about june, best fishing is April and may. These seasons kill the back bay fisherman, to many rules and we all should be pissed off. I dont think the size limit is all that good, most of the big fluke we catch are all females, plus lets see how many fish dont make it becasue of miss handleing and deep gut hooked fish, use bigger hooks
 

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Call me a dumb *** or whatever you want to call me I don't care but does the every day Joe Shmo really take in that many fish each year to have this many rule changes and big brothers eye on us? I understand having a size limit and creel but why a season? I understand you really don't want someone to get to carried away having a so called lucky day catching 50 fish that are 10 inches. But why not say people can fish when they show till they leave? Shouldn't the quotas and size creels be put on the commercial boats? And all this **** about a license its not like there stocking for us. Doesn't seem like there cleaning the waters to much so what will be happening with the money if they do start a license? Some high priced scientist will get it just to say oh wait bla, bla, bla.... If there going to close a season on a fishery then close it for the commercial guys. If it's closed here and they know in advance ship out to another port set up shop for that season. Come back to NJ for the next season. I'm just sick and tired of it waiting year to year this change that change its all a bunch of bull ****. Sorry just needed to vent!!!! Have a great day!!!!
I agree. it's not like their spawning is being disrupted by us recs. Nobody fishing recreationally is pounding on them offshore during the winter.

If it were up to me, I'd take a mid summer closure just so the spring and fall were open when I could actually have a chance at some nicer fish.
 

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Call me a dumb *** or whatever you want to call me I don't care but does the every day Joe Shmo really take in that many fish each year to have this many rule changes and big brothers eye on us? I understand having a size limit and creel but why a season? I understand you really don't want someone to get to carried away having a so called lucky day catching 50 fish that are 10 inches. But why not say people can fish when they show till they leave? Shouldn't the quotas and size creels be put on the commercial boats? And all this **** about a license its not like there stocking for us. Doesn't seem like there cleaning the waters to much so what will be happening with the money if they do start a license? Some high priced scientist will get it just to say oh wait bla, bla, bla.... If there going to close a season on a fishery then close it for the commercial guys. If it's closed here and they know in advance ship out to another port set up shop for that season. Come back to NJ for the next season. I'm just sick and tired of it waiting year to year this change that change its all a bunch of bull ****. Sorry just needed to vent!!!! Have a great day!!!!
The commercials do in fact have quotas and size limits. Their season is incredibly short, which is why they often end up risking life and limb to get their days in. There's plenty of Fluke in the ocean for both the commercials and the sports.
 

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:D Heck you can keep Easter just give me Thanksgiving . Ill take just the 4 day weekend .
Well, Thanksgiving is better for me (ocean fluker), but Easter would help out all the back bay guys. :thumbsup:
 

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FWIW, the option chosen was ranked #4 in the poll results.
 
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