2017 FISHING RECAP CHAP 1 FLOUNDER

. 2017 SEASON FOR SUMMER FLOUNDER Started out decent in spite of up and down windy weather APRIL.51 fluke caught ,tagged and released with average size of 19.12″. MAY saw a slight drop in size with largest caught the first 2 weeks and overall size of the month was 17.88″ JUNE saw another drop in size to 16.88″ but numbers were good. JULY as it normally is saw smallest fish of the year at 13.86″ .My 2018 problem started mid -JULY
when engine problems developed and I was out of the water for 6 1/2 weeks… Got going again late AUGUST and found fluke little larger at 14.78″. SEPT saw another slight increase at 14.94″ ,OCT was similar to SEPT at 14.88″ .NOV had fluke for about 10 days with an average size of 14.56″ Total for the year was 364 fluke caught with 322 tagged and released. Largest was 26″ with 3 at 26″ Several of my early tagged fish were re-caught in ocean in late May and June providing evidence that early Spring fluke begin moving back offshore in 6-8 weeks
2017 was best year for fluke in past 3 years in spite for losing 6 weeks
My basic rig for fluke was my designed 2 hook rig on a 2 way barrel swivel with 8″ leader tied for a 1/4-5/8 oz bucktail with a Gulp minnow, the other hook was on a 3ft leader with gold 5/0 hook . Depending on the time of year this hook had fresh stripped bait in early in May followed by Gulp Shrimp later and Gulp shrimp used most of the time the rest of the year.
Obviously 2017 demonstrated a population that the experts were not recognizing and I think that is due to changing fluke locations .Spots that produced for years did not produce and I found them in areas I never caught before. My belief is the ongoing beach replenishment is destroying inshore water ways with excess sand moving inside and choking bottom habitat with sand and destroying bottom life . This will continue and my best advice is to explore and look for new areas for more fluke inshore . There may be an increase in season length in 2018 BUT the regulators are still insisting on a 19″ size which is INSANE as 99% of fluke over 18″ are females. so NJ will have another fight on it’s hands
I would recommend that interested fluke fishermen get involved and voice their opinion this year as was done last year.
Decisions will be made in mid-Feb and a 30 day public comment session will be in place with meetings in NJ
My recommendations that need to be pushed go like this
#1–NJ needs to be split with an early opening in the South and later in the north.
#2 NJ must fight for at least a minimum of 18″
#3– Best option to allow for increasing the population is a slot size option of 2-3 fish between 15-18″ (keep in mind the commercial size is 14″) ,and one over 18 ” This would result in increasing the overall population as more females will be allowed to spawn
I will point out the initial size was set at 13″ several years ago and population grew every year BUT one even with increasing size UNTIL size got to 17 1 /2″ when population flatten out,since 18″ and now in some States 19″ the population as reported by the Feds has gone down…. You don’t have to be a genius to understand what is happening
OK this is my 2 cents as a result of flounder fishing in Cape May County NJ for past 60 plus years
Here is wishing you a GREAT 2108 SEASON