Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maryland Sets New Flounder Regs

An inch smaller and few days more than last year
This year, Chesapeake Bay and coastal anglers will be allowed to keep three fish with a minimum size of 18 inches, beginning April 16 and ending on Nov. 30. The new size is an inch shorter than last year.

Earlier this year, Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service biologists proposed three options, approved by regional regulators, and allowed the public to comment at hearings and by email. Each option had a three-fish creel, but varied by minimum size and season length and offered a different level of conservation.

The public didn't strongly favor one proposal over another, so the Fisheries Service chose the option likely to give anglers the best opportunity for success.

For the first time in several years, anglers stayed below the state's quota in 2010, catching 38,221 fish against an allocation of 75,00 fish. That, coupled with a coastwide quota increase tied to a flounder population rise, will allow Maryland to have a robust season, with a quota of 101,000 flounder.

The commercial hook-and-line season also begins on April 16...
Flounder (really, Summer Flounder) are without a doubt the best tasting fish in Chesapeake Bay.  They are highly sought after, and not because of the fight they put up, which has been described as being roughly the same as a boot or t-shirt.  In the fast several years, the size limit for legal flounder has been raised from the something like 14 inches (IIRC) to the last years 19, and the number a recreational fisherman can keep has been manipulated as well in an effort to keep the catch down to what the regulators believe are sustainable levels.  Some people with entirely too much free time on their hands have learned the art of fishing for flounder (I've had lessons, but I lack the patience and the specialized equipment), and in some years recently, it has been extremely difficult even for these people to catch a single legal flounder, never mind a limit.  And the most frustrating part of it all is that it is pretty common to catch flounder just a little smaller than the limit and have to throw it back.
Trevor with a pre-9/11 Flounder

Having the limit lowered to 18 inches this year will help with that.  An 18 inch flounder provides four nice strips of meat, which should provide a meal for two people.  Three per person per day should be sufficient for all but the hungriest fisherman and his family.

As I said, I do not claim to be a flounder pro, but prior to 9/11/2001, I had a pretty reliable spot for a few.  Unfortunately, after the WTC and Pentagon attacks, they established an exclusion zone around Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, and my flounder hole (it also produced good numbers of croaker and striped bass) ended up inside the exclusion zone.  Now I occasionally luck into a flounder while slow jigging for stripers, but I rarely target them.  I have never forgiven Al Qaeda for that.

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