Summer flounder (fluke) season.
2018 SUMMER FLOUNDER REGULATIONS
- NJ Coastal Waters
- 18-inch minimum
- 3 fish
- May 25 through September 22
With strict summer flounder regulations, more shorts are being caught and released. Will most of those throwbacks survive to be caught another day? No.
But, there are ways to improve their chance of survival.
- Summer flounder, also known as fluke, are common throughout New Jersey’s coastal waters from late spring to late fall.
- They can grow to more than 30 inches and weigh in excess of 20 pounds
- 1 to 3-pound fish are more common
- 8-pound fish being considered large.
- Very few summer flounder caught, are keepers.
- Most fish caught, are released.
- During the season, 40 are thrown back….. for every one kept.
The J hook is the most common hook. The negative aspect of a J hook is that an angler must pay attention, for there is an increased chance of a fish “swallowing the hook” and becoming gut hooked.
Fluke are aggressive predatory fish and will consume many different species of fish and crustaceans as well as artificial offerings. When fishing with a big bait, use a bigger hook.
APPROACHES and RELEASE METHODS
All too often anglers leave a fishing rod in the water unattended. As soon as the angler walks away a fish will hit and without an angler to set the hook, the fish will swallow the hook, and become gut hooked, leading to increased fish mortality. If you must leave or take a break, ask a friend to “watch the rod” or just simply just reel up.
After feeling that hit and catching a short summer flounder what should you do next? The simple answer is return the fish to the water as soon as possible, but there is much more the angler can do to decrease fish mortality. Summer flounders have a slimy layer that is a frontline protection from bacteria. A break in a fish’s slime is like a cut on a human’s skin.
The best way to protect the fish is the “less is more” method. The less the fish is touched the more of a chance the fish will survive. At the water surface the fish should be netted, then if not being kept a rag dipped in salt water should be used to hold the fish and a pair of pliers used to release the hook from the fish.
If the fish is gut hooked it is recommended that the line be cut as close to the hook as possible. Fish mortality is greater if an angler attempts to “rip” a hook out of the fish damaging the important gills. A hook that’s cut off will eventually rust and will reduce fish mortality. A summer flounder should never touch a deck, jetty, beach, bulkhead, sod bank, or pavement unless the fish is going to be dinner.
Dehooking, handling, and reviving fish properly can make the difference between life and death for the fish. Having dehooking tools like pliers or a multi-tool can be beneficial for a quick return into the water.
When handling that big catch use a wet towel or at least wet hands to protect the fish’s slime coat. If taking a picture with the fish, hold it horizontally with both hands underneath it to support the fish’s weight to decrease the chance of internal damage. Avoid holding the fish by the gills, eyes, and tail. Use a plastic holding device that grips the lips.
Reducing discard mortality is crucial.