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If You Can't Keep It, Save It!
Summer Flounder (Fluke) Information

 
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The NJ Marine Fisheries Council met in an emergency session on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, to recommend 2017 measures for New Jersey's recreational summer flounder fishery. Those measures were affirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on July 11, 2017:

WATER
SIZE
DAILY LIMIT
SEASON DATES
NJ Coastal Waters
18-inch minimum
3
May 25 through September 5
Delaware Bay and Tributaries
17-inch minimum
3
May 25 through September 5
Island Beach State Park (Shore Mode only)
16-inch minimum
2
May 25 through September 5

Flounder Fishing with Russ Alan and Al Ivany (DEP Podcast)
Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of the Summer Flounder Harvest Restrictions in New Jersey (pdf, 260kb)

Reducing discard mortality is crucial. The Division of Fish and Wildlife encourages anglers to follow these techniques:

  • Plan ahead - Expect to release fish and have the necessary equipment to do so, including de-hookers and nets; more experienced anglers may also consider using a recompression tool, a device that allows fish to be returned to the water at a safer depth.

  • Use appropriate gear - Use gear suited to the size of the fish that you are trying to catch; 5/0 to 7/0 size hooks are recommended to successfully land bigger fish and reduce discards.
    Bait & Tackle Shops Providing Free "If You Can 't Keep It, Save It!" Flounder Hooks (pdf, 45kb) Hooks distributed in coordination with the American Sportfishing Association and Eagle Claw to help anglers land bigger fish and reduce the potential for discards.

  • Handle fish carefully - Use knotless, rubberized landing nets and rubberized gloves to avoid removing the protective slime layer on fish and help ensure survival when placed back in the water.

Fishing with barbless hooks, or hooks where the barb is crimped, makes releasing a short fish easier and faster which reduces discard mortality. It does require keeping a taut line to not lose a fish, but fish can sometimes be released simply by letting the line go slack, ensuring the fish is unharmed to be caught again.

The following sites and videos provide information on reducing the mortality of released fish:

FishSmart...for the future of fishing
FishSmart - Catch and Release How-To (Take Me Fishing YouTube Site)
How to Use a Dehooking Tool (Florida Sea Grant YouTube Site)

It's a Short! Release That Summer Flounder Alive For the Next Angler (Feature Article)
Throw Back That Short Fish–Unharmed! (from 2009 Marine Digest, pdf, 130kb)

Best Practices: General Guidelines for Safely Releasing your Fish (FishSmart.org)
Best Practices for Safely Releasing Deep Caught Saltwater Fish (FishSmart.org)
Catch & Release: Do Your Best To Minimize Mortality (The Fisherman)
Techniques to Reduce Catch-and-Release Mortality (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Catch & Release Fishing (Univesrity of Florida/Florida Sea Grant)

Optimization of Hook Size in the N.J. Summer Flounder Hook and Line Fishery (pdf, 640kb)
Optimization of Gear Size and Post-Release Mortality Reduction in the N.J. Summer Flounder Hook and Line Fishery - NOAA/NMFS BREP Final Report (pdf, 3.2mb)
Release Mortality in Virginia's Recreational Fishery for Summer Flounder, "Paralichthys Dentatus" (Jersey Coast Anglers Assn.)

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: October 6, 2017