Floun­der fish­ing isn’t floun­der­ing at the shore

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Jim Loe

There is good news for New Jer­sey floun­der an­glers and it comes from the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA). The agency has agreed that New Jer­sey’s sum­mer floun­der reg­u­la­tions are in fed­eral com­pli­ance and there will be no penal­ties im­posed on the state or its an­glers. Pre­vi­ously, NOAA had ar­gued that the state was out of com­pli­ance with fed­eral reg­u­la­tions and there was a very se­ri­ous pos­si­bil­ity the sum­mer floun­der fish­ery could have been shut down.

So, un­til the end of the sea­son on Septem­ber 5, you can keep three fish with a min­i­mum 18-inch length. That is un­less you are fish­ing in Delaware Bay where there is a 17inch min­i­mum or Is­land Beach State Park where there is a 16inch min­i­mum. Never say reg­u­la­tors never want to com­pli­cate things!

Since floun­der are start­ing this week’s col­umn we might as well stay with them. The back bays all up and down the coast are lined with the flat­ties. The down­side is that not many of them meet the le­gal min­i­mum size. A good ex­am­ple comes from Down­ing­town’s Bill Men­den­hall who, along with his son Bill, Jr., visit Mar­gate at least on a weekly ba­sis. On one re­cent trip Bill’s group had 94 fish, but just two mea­sured up. He fol­lowed that up with an­other trip to Mar­gate’s back bays and had 112 flat­ties and only three keep­ers. What we learn from this is that you will not be bored but you will not be tak­ing many fish home for din­ner.

Nine-year-old Karli Beigh­ley, of Avon­dale in Delaware County, did get to take home a good one. She grabbed a 22-inch fish from the vicin­ity of Great Egg Har­bor In­let. Don Mace, his son Zach, and Joe Dusko, all from Pottstown, tried their luck in the ICW be­tween Ocean City and Strath­mere and hooked a to­tal of 28 floun­der, with four in the box. Don said most were caught on Gulp! and a cou­ple on min­nows.

If floun­der are not high on your list there is plenty more from which to choose in the back bays and out in the surf. Black seabass and trig­ger­fish seem to be ev­ery­where, al­though there is a measly two fish bag limit on the seabass. Weak­fish, striped bass and blue­fish also are swim­ming in the back, prob­a­bly chas­ing the big schools of peanut bunker that have moved in. Most of the weakies are fairly small but the blues can go up to 5 pounds and there have been a few stripers over 20 pounds weighed-in lately. Then there’s king­fish. Hit the surf or jet­ties and you should have lit­tle trou­ble fill­ing your cooler. I al­most for­got to note that there also are eels in the back bays. So be sure you have some way to get a grip on

the slip­pery guys so you can un­hook them. I un­der­stand they are very good eat­ing but I never have given them a try.

Off­shore there is a good bite on bluefin, yel­lowfin and big eye tuna so far all over the coast­line. There are not many re­ports of huge fish but a 40 or 50-pound tuna will re­quire plenty if not all of your stamina to bring it up to the boat. I didn’t hear any­thing about sharks this past week, though they were quite the catch a cou­ple weeks back as noted in my pre­vi­ous write-up.

Crab­bing all across the coast re­mains ex­cel­lent to date.

Trig­ger­fish have moved in on Delaware. Trig­gers up to 3-pounds are be­ing caught at the Cape Hen­lopen State Park, Sites 10 and 11 and the Outer Wall. Seabass are plen­ti­ful at the Delaware Reef and Site 11.

Like New Jer­sey, the Delaware surf is loaded with king­fish ready to bite at any time lately. Most of the an­glers are us­ing blood­worms and some nice, de­cent sized floun­der are be­ing caught around the In­dian River In­let rocks.

I know many, if not most of you, say there is no en­force­ment of fish­ery reg­u­la­tions, es­pe­cially in the ocean miles off the coast. Well, Bob Mich­ener, a long time friend from Ivy­land, Pa., was out in the Wilm­ing­ton Canyon tuna fish­ing when he was boarded by the crew of a large Coast Guard cut­ter out of Cape May. The Coasties checked ev­ery­one’s ID, per­mits, life jack­ets and mea­sured each of the tuna in the box to en­sure com­pli­ance with all the reg­u­la­tions/codes. Bob noted that the board­ing party could not have been more cour­te­ous and friendly dur­ing their check. So, let that be a wake up for you to make sure ev­ery­thing is in or­der when you head out. It’s the least we can do out on the water.

JIM LOE — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Crew mem­bers from a large Coast Guard cut­ter from Sta­tion Cape May pre­pare for an in­spec­tion board­ing of Bob Mich­ener’s boat some 70 miles off­shore in the Wilm­ing­ton Canyon.

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