Stricter reg­u­la­tions likely to hit Jer­sey next spring

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Jim Loe For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

This week’s col­umn will wrap-up an­other sea­son of Salt Spray re­ports from here at the shore.

It has been a rather pe­cu­liar sea­son, with the ma­te­ri­als com­ing out of the var­i­ous reg­u­la­tory bod­ies mak­ing more news than the an­glers and the fish they were catch­ing.

It all be­gan when the reg­u­la­tors wanted to im­pose even stricter rules on sum­mer floun­der fish­ing in New Jer­sey. The reg­u­la­tions would have dec­i­mated the fish­ery and prob­a­bly forced many of the small bait and tackle shops and char­ter and par­ty­boats out of busi­ness.

For­tu­nately, the state’s recre­ational and com­mer­cial fish­ing in­dus­tries banded to­gether to fight back, and they were able to con­vince the new ad­min­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton to over­rule the reg­u­la­tors. What we got was not idea: A short­ened sea­son, an 18-inch min­i­mum size and a three-fish bag limit. But, even this was far bet­ter than what had been or­dered be­fore the big guns stepped in.

But no bu­reau­cracy likes be­ing over­ruled, and the reg­u­la­tors of the var­i­ous agen­cies have made it clear they want to pun­ish New Jer­sey for do­ing just that. It cer­tainly ap­pears the bat­tle is not over, and it looks like the state will have to ap­peal to Wash­ing­ton again next year af­ter the — what prob­a­bly will be — even stricter rules are pub­lished.

The re­ally strange thing about the reg­u­la­tor’s ac­tions is it con­tra­dicts sci­en­tific proof. They claim they want to save the floun­der pop­u­la­tion, but their rules are ac­tu­ally killing the fe­male breed­ing stock. Hardly any male floun­der mea­sure 17-inches, yet those are the ones that must be re­leased. The breed­ing fe­males are the ones go­ing into the cool­ers.

The rule mak­ers also made a mess out of the black seabass fish­ing. They man­dated a con­vo­luted, hacked-up sea­son with a ridicu­lous two-fish bag limit in July and Au­gust, and the clos­ing down of the sea­son dur­ing Septem­ber. That clos­ing co­in­cided with the clos­ing of the floun­der sea­son on Septem­ber 5, mean­ing the two most pop­u­lar recre­ational fish in the state were off-lim­its, forc­ing many party and char­ter boats to re­main at the dock dur­ing a prime part of the sea­son.

A num­ber of meet­ings are slated for this fall and win­ter; and the more peo­ple who can at­tend, the bet­ter. Per­haps the most im­por­tant ses­sion is De­cem­ber 11 to 14 in An­napo­lis, when the At­lantic States Marine Fish­eries Com­mis­sion and the Mid-At­lantic Fish­ery Man­age­ment Coun­cil will meet.

Enough with the reg­u­la­tions. The fall fish­ing got off to a rather slow start, pri­mar­ily be­cause of warm wa­ter. We had a rather nasty blow last Sun­day, and that has helped drop the wa­ter to the point where the striper ac­tion should be­gin to pick up. Surf casters have been pick­ing them, es­pe­cially in Long Beach Is­land.

The back bays have been pro­duc­ing sea bass, blue­fish, trig­ger­fish and some out-of-sea­son floun­der. For the big hump­back seabass, you have to head to the deep wa­ter off­shore wrecks. Once you get there, you should be well-re­warded.

Mixed in with the bass will be some re­ally big por­gies, taug and trig­gers.

There still is some trolling ac­tiv­ity off the beaches, with lit­tle tunny and blue­fish be­ing main at­trac­tions.

ACROSS THE BAY

Fish­ing ac­tion in Delaware re­mains quite good, al­though there are no re­ally lunker catches to re­port.

The Broad­kill River is giv­ing up quite a few white perch and a few short striped bass. As the wa­ter temp con­tin­ues to fall, we can ex­pect those stripers to get up to keeper size. The Roo­sevelt In­let and the Canal have been har­bor­ing a fair num­ber of floun­der and some short stripers.

If you are look­ing for floun­der to put in the box, I sug­gest the Cape Hen­lopen State Park af­ter dark, where flat­ties up to 20 inches are con­gre­gat­ing un­der the pier lights.

Along the Outer Wall, there are re­ports of sheepshead and tau­tog; and in the surf, there is steady ac­tiv­ity of false al­bies and blue­fish. In the In­dian River In­let, an­glers are get­ting a steady pick of taug along the rocks.

Well, this puts a cap on an­other sea­son of Salt Spray re­port. I be­lieve I be­gan writ­ing it way back in 1974 or ‘75, but, you know what ... each and ev­ery re­port con­tin­ues to be fun for me. I hope you have as much fun read­ing them.

I want each of you to have a great hol­i­day sea­son, and a healthy and happy 2018.

So, un­til the spring when the macks are back, stay well. Thank you very much for your loy­alty.

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