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Winter Flounder - Severe Restrictions Coming

515 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Fred81876
I know there are only a few on the Barn that are interested in Winter Flounder fishing but this past spring I went for WF for the first time since I was a kid and had an absolute blast. In late March or early April it really helps get rid of that cabin fever especially so if the water is still a little too cold for a good Striper bite.
BUT, like all our fisheries that are threatened with additional restrictions like smaller bag limits, minimum sizes, etc., the Winter Flounder restrictions that are on the horizon for the rec community are devastating. Today you can fish for WF from March 1st through May 31st and then again from September 15th through December 31st. There is no bag limit (probably too liberal) and the minimum size is 11 inches. The Options on the table are as follows...
Option 1
Minimum Size = 12"
Bag Limit = 6
Closed Season = March & April
Expected Reduction = Large

Option 2
Minimum Size = 12"
Bag Limit = 2
Closed Season = Status Quo
Expected Reduction = Large

Option 3
Minimum Size = 12"
Bag Limit = Status Quo
Closed Season = Status Quo AND March/April
Expected Reduction = Large

Option 4
Minimum Size = 12"
Bag Limit = Status Quo
Closed Season = March/April
Expected Reduction = Medium

Option 5
Minimum Size = 12"
Bag Limit = Status Quo
Closed Season = Status Quo
Expected Reduction = Very Small

Option 6
Minimum Size = Status Quo
Bag Limit = Status Quo
Closed Season = Status Quo
Expected Reduction = None

The Technical Committee is recommending Option 1 or Option 2. Either of these Options will severely hurt all those associated with WF, the fishermen, the Bait shops, boat rentals, etc.
With these type of restrictions I wish they would just shut down the whole WF fishery for Recs & Comms for 2-3 years and then come back with some sensible regulations.
What's next???? Weakies?
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I thought that WF were classified as underfished by the comm. guys
it will never stop they will beat us into submission in about 25 more years unless we revolt and thats at least 15 years away.
So once again the recs pay for any shortfall.
What is the Comm cutback? Since they account for 90% of the catch, surely they are being held accountable for any overfishing, eh?
Did anyone see this coming?

Flounder regulations draw opposition

Published in the Asbury Park Press 12/10/04

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's
winter flounder board is going to hear a lot from
opponents of its proposed regulations even before the
public hearing Jan. 5 in Belmar.

The proposals to cut the harvest limit from unlimited
to two fish or eliminate the two most important months
of the fishing season -- March and April -- have drawn
a storm of criticism.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-NJ, quickly recognized the
threat to the recreational fishing community, and
fired off a letter expressing his concern to John V.
O'Shea, executive director of the ASMFC.

"I believe that the ASMFC's proposed cuts to the
recreational catch of winter flounder are
unjustified," he said.

The board's proposals are either: 1) a 12-inch minimum
size, a six-fish limit and a season closure of March
and April, or 2) a 12-inch minimum size, a two-fish
limit and a season closure in January and February and
June 1 through Sept. 14.

"If the first proposal were implemented it would
drastically reduce the recreational catch of winter
flounder by 38 percent," Pallone pointed out. "The
second proposal would reduce the catch by a shocking
68 percent.

"Since the recreational harvest of winter flounder is
less than 10 percent of the entire annual harvest, I
have severe reservations about the ASMFC's approach to
managing this fishery," he added.

"It is obvious that recreational anglers are being
penalized through strict regulations for a problem
they did not cause, and that the result of
implementing such regulations will only encourage
further distrust of fisheries management," he

"Moreover, such regulations would devastate our
fishing-related businesses that depend heavily on this
fishery for their livelihoods," he emphasized. "The
suggested proposals are completely unfair."

Devastation is exactly what would happen to the
Shore-area winter-flounder fishery.

Party and charter boatmen in the Bayshore area are
livid over the proposals. Either a two-fish limit or
prohibiting fishing in March and April would kill the
flounder fishery, which has sustained boatmen and bait
and tackle shops for generations in the spring.

Capt. Tom Buban, Atlantic Star, Atlantic Highlands,
said the proposal to cut the possession limit on
flounder from an unlimited number of fish to two fish
is ludicrous.

"It seems like they want to put us out of business,"
he said. "People aren't going to come down to catch
two winter flounder, and, if they shut us down in
March and April, we've lost our best fishing time."

Bryan Zimmerman of Steven's Bait and Tackle, Long
Branch, sees the proposals as one more blow to the
small businessman.

"This is important to the mom-and-pop tackle shops,"
he said. "This shop has been here almost forever, and
I want to keep it that way, but they're making it
tougher and tougher for us."

Zimmerman caters to flounder fishermen who fish the
Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and Sandy Hook Bay.

Dick Kuhn of Gates' Bait and Tackle, Point Pleasant
Beach, said the proposed regulations would radically
impact participation in the Manasquan River and
Barnegat Bay flounder fisheries .

"Hopefully, they (management) will come to their
senses," he said. "If I don't have the business from
flounder fishermen in March and April I might as well
not open the shop until May.

"This is an example of mismanagement," he continued.
"Now you can go out and catch 100 flounder -- not that
anyone does -- and next year you will only be able to
catch two. From all you want to two? Something's wrong

"It's going to kill the party and charter boat
flounder business," he pointed out.

Kuhn, who at one time targeted winter flounder as
captain of party boats out of Ken's Landing, Point
Pleasant Beach, emphasized that flounder fishermen
sometimes only catch two fish, but it is the hope of
catching eight, 10 or a dozen or more flounder that
brings anglers back.

"Who wants to go out and pay $30 to catch two 12-inch
flounder?" he asked. "They won't do it. The idea
doesn't make sense."

Capt. Bill Burdge, skipper of the BarVic out of Point
Pleasant Beach, said he did not have enough customers
to fish for flounder Saturday, but was out Sunday and
found the fishing slow.

"There were very few people and fishing was not good,"
he said. "I'll try again this weekend and that will be
it for the season."

Burdge said that, if the proposed regulations are
adopted, that may be "it" for flounder fishing,

"At two fish we'll be out of business, and closing
March and April is ridiculous -- that's the only time
we catch any fish," he pointed out.

Burdge said he cannot understand how the New Jersey
recreational winter flounder catch can be so important
to the future of the stocks today when from the 1940s
to the 1980s there were more rowboat and bank
fishermen catching more flounder than there are today
and the stocks were not affected.

"Something's wrong, and it's not what the recreational
fisherman is doing," he said. "Winter flounder are all
we have left in the spring. Their (management's)
thinking is beyond me."

Burdge's reference to another era of recreational
flounder fishing seems to have been lost on
management, and is fading from the public's memory.

Fewer and fewer anglers remember the hordes of small
boats that covered Manasquan River years ago during
the flounder season.

Fishermen today think of days when the river is
crowded with flounder boats -- a few weekends in late
April and early May. But in another era the rowboats
would be out not only then, but in March, and some
would be out in January and February, and June.

Wally Chapman had a fleet of over 100 rowboats that he
rented from his livery on the south bank of the river
west of the Route 70 Bridge. Trixie's on the north
bank contributed some rowboats, and farther east
Clark's Landing, Point Pleasant, probably had 50 or 75

Tom Bogan had a rowboat livery on the south side of
the river in Point Pleasant Beach, there was another
fleet of rowboats in the cove by the inlet where Clem
Danish's shop once was, and Jim's Bait and Tackle
contributed rowboats to the fleet from his location on
Debbie's Creek.

This armada was bolstered by rowboats, garveys and
assorted small boats owned privately. Bank fishermen
were out on both sides of the river, in Watson's
Creek, Will's Hole Thoroughfare and the Point Pleasant

We caught flounder -- plenty of flounder -- and the
harvest went on for years without the stocks being

Now the flounder stocks are in trouble, and the
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is certain
how to bring them back -- restrict the recreational angler.

[ 12-11-2004, 06:32 PM: Message edited by: High Wire ]
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The winter flounder come in the back bays to spawn late November to early December, usaully, unless the water temps. do not drop low enough,then they wait until they do. Look at this years water temps., much higher than they were this time of year twenty years ago, which equalls a shorter spawning period, which equalls less fish. What is the best solution? Do we resrict the comm. guys who depend on the fish for there living or restrict the guys who go fishing for FUN. On another note, the Army Corp. of Enginers are doing a large dredging project in Oyster Creek channel,prime flounder spawning habitat during the prime flounder spawning season. You ask why?? They are doing it to accomodate the RECREATIONAL fishermen who use the channel in the warmer months!!! No matter how you look at it everyone is resp. for the decline of the flounder fishery. As far as the bait shop owners and the head boats are concerned, they are the commercial sector of the recreational fishery. If you want to fish in the cold months you will still be able to catch the ever so protected striped bass, which love to prey on juvenile flounder,and cod and ling and blackfish and perch, just to name a few.
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