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Fluke fishers like Marc Sabatino (left) of North Branford and charter captain Mike Perri (right) of the Flying Connie are concerned about regulation changes and their effects on the 2019 fishing season. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Jonathon Flagge of Branford had a rewarding black sea bass trip this season. New recreational management measures are currently underway to bolster the fishery. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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The purpose of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Addendum XXXII is to establish a management approach that addresses several key management objectives. This includes things such as regional equity, regulatory stability, harvest opportunities commensurate with species abundance, and distribution and management measures that are responsive to late-breaking recreational harvest estimates, along with stock status information and public input. Addendum XXXII, in part, establishes a new process for establishing management measures for the state recreational summer flounder (fluke) fishery for the 2019 fishing year and beyond.
The management board affiliated with summer flounder intends to address all of these management challenges and objectives via comprehensive, long-term management reforms during the next several years. These actions will draw upon improved recreational fishery data, new stock assessments, and innovative management tools. Accordingly, this document seeks to advance an interim approach that lays the foundation for broad-based, long-term management reform, as well as a fisheries management plan more in tune with the times.
This constitutes a procedural change from the process used in recent years to establish annual recreational management programs for summer flounder. Management measures will be set annually through a specification process. Management will decide whether to use coast-wise measures to achieve Recreational Harvest Limits (RHL) or conservation equivalent management measures using agreed-upon guidelines.
The technical committee will then use a set of management tools to set forth sound, science-based fishery recommendations as to acceptable annual harvests. In turn, partner states will use their collaborations to determine regional annual regulations. Input from the public was accepted through Nov. 29, 2018, after which the board is to establish final measures to be certified by the commission stating that the RHL will be achieved, but not exceeded.
These measures will be developed using a six-region approach consisting of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut-New York, New Jersey, Delaware-Virginia, and North Carolina. Recreational measures for all states within a region will consist of the same minimum size limit, possession limit, and season length.
While allowing for a reasonable amount of flexibility based on the performance of the fishery and stock availability, regional measures should be adjusted unidirectionally along the coast to maintain an equitable opportunity to harvest fish for all stakeholders. The intent is to establish regional measures that do not change significantly on an annual basis nor diverge significantly between bordering states over time, thereby yielding a benefit to all flukers. As a recap, Connecticut regulations for the 2018 recreational summer flounder fishery (excluding the enhanced areas) were set at a four-fish limit, 19-inch minimum size with an open season from May 4 through Sept. 30. That took into account a 30-percent reduction in the RHL. Expect any changes in the tightening or relaxing of regulations to be announced in early spring.
On the Water
A new fishing year is upon us as we bid adieu to 2018 and welcome 2019. Last year saw record warmth, more than five feet of rain, four tornadoes, and a snowy March. So far, the warm atmosphere and associated weather fronts have continued a rainy pattern as we anticipate what this year’s fishing will bring. For now, Long Island Sound water temperatures remain in the mid-40s, while continuing their fluctuations between calm and gale-force winds.
The real inshore action has been within the main tidal rivers, resulting in striped bass action being quite good. During the holiday, linesiders were on the feed, generating a good inshore bite. Along the shoreline, the gulls were also quite active, feeding on schools of forage fish like Atlantic herring. A rollback in the annual bass harvest will likely be implemented.
Offshore, cod fishers are looking forward to hitting Coxes Ledge (weather permitting) for some steakers, as well as haddock, ling, porgy (scup), black sea bass, and mackerel. However, inshore, the trout and salmon rivers have been jinxed by exceedingly high levels and fast flows, making fishing quite the challenge. Certain trout parks and lakes, although in high some cases, have been producing various catches of fish species like yellow perch, crappie, and largemouth bass. If you’re persistent, there is always the white perch fishery that can be tried using small jigs and worms.
This time of year brings out the shellfishers to not only take advantage of the generally low tides, but also delicious winter clams. Normally, as the water temperatures cool down and beds get colder and somewhat harder, clams go deeper. Longer tines allow a clammer to reach those depths more efficiently, resulting in a better yield. However, before venturing out, be sure to check on which shellfish beds are open due to recent rainfall. Also, don’t forget to renew your 2019 Guilford or Madison shellfish license available at Captain Morgan’s.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.
For all things fishy including the latest gear, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...
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