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Mar 13, 2018 2:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Fluke Regs Will Be More Generous In 2018

Matt and Joseph Bobek of East Hampton with a dinner-sized blue marlin they caught while in Cabo San Lucas last month.
Mar 13, 2018 3:06 PM

New York fluke fishermen will have a nice, long season and a generous bag limit this coming season. The state’s Marine Resources Advisory Council voted this past week to support a four-fish bag limit for fluke (that’s one more than last year), with a 19-inch minimum size (same as last year), and a season running from May 4 all the way through September 30 (about two weeks longer than last year).

Charter and party boat captains, tackle shops and marina gas stations, rejoice! Now, we just need Mother Nature to cooperate, and there will be fillets sizzling in the pan in three seasons this year.

Porgy fishermen are also getting a bit of a gift from the management gods, a cutting of the size limit for scup, from 10 to 9 inches. This is less exciting, since I know very few porgy anglers who keep even 10-inch porgies anymore, when they can easily fill limits with fish of 15 inches or better almost anywhere on the East End.

The one unknown, and probably negative, is the rules for black sea bass: New York anglers exceeded their quota last year and are looking at a nearly 12 percent cut in the allowable harvest. Sea bass rules have been a complicated exercise the last few years, with changing bag limits meant to try to appease both summertime recreational anglers who want to keep the giant knuckleheads they catch while fluke fishing, but still leaving a healthy quota for the party and charter boats that rely on substantial bag limits to draw customers in November and December.

If cuts are going to come, I would say they should come to the larger midsummer and early-fall bag limits. Allowing anglers to keep two or three or four sea bass when there are plenty of other species to be had should be of little real consequence to fishermen economically. But the ultimate goal of sea bass management should be to ensure that the 10-fish bag limits in November and December are kept intact to preserve the incentive for fishermen to venture to sea in November and December when the fluke and striped bass have thinned out.

For all the flak that fisheries managers get, New York’s fisheries managers have done a pretty sound job of managing our allowances for the benefit of recreational and economic interests in the last decade or so, even in the face of a pretty unfair system of quota apportionment and stock assessments. Hopefully, that track record will continue.

Another brutal nor’easter is whacking away at our beaches as I write this. Looking for the silver lining in the beach erosion, I would expect there to be some excellent new bowls and peaks along the sand for striped bass to gather around as they come by. Start taking notes.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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