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Monday, June 17, 2024


The Fishing Line: Flounder Final Regs


By Carolyn Miller

With flounder the topic of the moment, let’s get right to it. NJ Marine Fisheries Council met April 3 and set this year’s fluke season to open on May 23 Memorial Day weekend and close Sept 27. Without strong participation from South Jersey’s inshore recreational fishermen, the May 17 option was overwhelmingly turned down. Size remains 18 inches with a five fish bag. Winter flounder opened April 1 and will stay open until end of year with 2 fish at 12 inches.
South Jersey fishermen need to get excited and start getting involved in these meetings or we’ll continue to get short end of the stick. Regionalization with New York is a one year trial and now is the time to get involved for next year. Council agreed to investigate the option raised by Bill Shillingford to split the State if regionalization were to continue. That idea got a favorable response from north and south .
Sea Bass came out better with 186 days available to fish. Season will open May 15 and close June 30 with 15 fish, July 1 to Aug. 30 with 3 fish, Sept. 1- Sept. 6 with 15 fish, and Oct. 18- Dec. 31 with 15 fish. The size remains the same, 12.5 inches, all year.
Speaking of flounder, Thomas M sent in this question: “In the 1970s, when I lived in N. Wildwood, I used to fish for winter flounder. I don’t see them anymore and wondered if you knew if the water conditions have changed. Are the winter flounder still in this area, or did they migrate North or to some other region?”
Bill Shillingford gave us this answer, “Winter flounder were thick in 60s through 70s and then a disease almost wiped them out. I have only fished for them 1 or 2 times a year the past several years and have found a few the past 2 years but nothing like years ago. It does require a lot of work. I use a plunger to get the bottom worked up and use crushed mussels for chum and bloodworms for bait. It’s tough for just 2 fish but I’m hoping they start coming back.” Willie added that he caught a 30 inch striper last fall that had 4 winter flounder in its belly that were about 2-4 inches. Could be a sign they are returning.
Slot striper? One fish bag limit? Increase the size from 28 to 34 inches? Leave it alone? When it comes to striped bass, everyone’s got a management answer. On Wednesday, April 23 from 7 to 9 p.m., join Russ Allen of the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife at the Holiday Inn on Route 72 in Manahawkin, for a special public forum exclusively on striped bass management.
Hosted by the Recreational Fishing Alliance’s New Jersey Chapter (RFA-NJ), this free event features an overview of the latest Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) striped bass assessment results, current coastal stock status, NJ’s survey results and potential ASMFC management actions. ASMFC will take up the striped bass discussion again at their spring meetings in Alexandria, VA which start on May 12.
NOAA has announced that the wreck of the Robert J. Walker, a steamer that served in the U.S. Coast Survey, a predecessor agency of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Walker served as survey ship, charting the Gulf Coast–including Mobile Bay and the Florida Keys–in the decade before the Civil War. Twenty-one men died when Walker sank in rough seas on June 21, 1860, 10 miles off Absecon Inlet. The crew had finished its latest surveys and was sailing to New York when the ship was hit by a commercial schooner. The side-wheel steamer, carrying 66 crewmembers, sank within 30 minutes. The sinking was the largest single loss of life in the history of NOAA or its predecessor agencies.
Last year, NOAA and its partners confirmed Walker’s location and identity as part of a collaboration that included research by NJ wreck divers and government and university maritime archaeologists. NOAA does not plan to make the wreck a sanctuary or limit diving, but to work with NJ’s wreck diving community to better understand the wreck and the stories it can tell.
NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife has openings for the Sedge Island Fishing Experience; application deadline April 21. The program, June 26-29, is for students going into grades 8 and 9 this fall and will teach different fishing techniques from the back bay to the surf. Students will stay at the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center, off Island Beach State Park in Barnegat Bay. No fishing experience is required; those who have grown up fishing are also welcome to attend. The cost, $475, includes all meals, lodging, bait, tackle and equipment. Scholarships are available at
CORRECTION: Those interested in the Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Program information in this column two weeks ago should know that it is Robert Johnston not Robert Jackson who designed the new curriculum program. NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife will host another 2-day HOFNOD training for adult staff and volunteers of youth-centered community and/or faith-based organizations Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs, May 16-18, at the
Princeton Blairstown Center, Hardwick. Details on the NJDEP Web site.
The Fishing Line runs year round so keep sending your reports and pictures to Column and pictures are posted online at and on Facebook. Keep them coming.

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