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Captain's Focus

The ASMFC meeting in Virginia finally came up with a summer flounder regulation for 2017, but NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin is standing fast in insisting on status quo regulations pending completion of a new baseline summer flounder stock assessment which many expect will show that species is in much better condition than outdated statistics presently indicate. New York was pushing for Option 5, which would provide a 19-inch minimum with a three-fish bag and the same 128-day season as last year. Even that didn't quite make up the big reduction required, but most of the states thought they could get away with it as they voted for its adoption. Commissioner Martin made a strong presentation opposed to what he feels will be draconian regulations that could put the for-hire fleet and many tackle shops out of business. Even though our fluke fishery could be closed if we remain out of compliance, the regulatory process would take some time - possibly not impacting N.J. until mid-summer. In addition, there is hope that the Trump administration might not order the shutdown due to the economic impact. However, the Secretary of Commerce nominee, Wilbur Ross, still hasn't been confirmed.   Check my blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing or updates on the fluke situation as well as other species involved at the ASMFC meeting. A memorial service for Capt. John M. Connell will be held from 1-5 p.m. Saturday in Bay Funeral Home, 361 Maple Place, Keyport. The popular skipper of the Capt. John from Keyport died Sunday at just 48 in Raritan Bay Medical Center, Perth Amboy. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported Thursday started out nicely before winds increased to 15-20-mph in the afternoon. There was decent life on offshore bottoms, with some keeper and short blackfish mixed in with bergalls and eels.The high hook bagged three tog,, and there were a few ling, cod, mackerel and herring plus a pollock. Both the Ocean Explorer and Big Mohawk from Belmar expect to fish every day through the weekend. The latter reports their big pool is up to $3,500. Capt. Ryan Bogan only got offshore once last week with Jamaica II from Brielle. He found good life on wrecks in 100 to 120 feet with blackfish and school cod. Out in 200 feet it was mostly big silver eels (congers). Greg Majoram of Philadelphia had a tog limit to 9 pounds, three cod and a pollock. Ernest Grossman from Lavallette  boated a tog limit to 7 1/2 pounds, plus three cod, 4 ling, and a dozen congers up to 20 pounds. The Jamaica II is sailing Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Jamaica from Brielle has its weekly Saturday 2 a.m. trip to far offshore wrecks, and will switch it to Sunday if the weather doesn't work out. That's what happened last weekend, when they did well with jumbo porgies and even had several weakfish. Robert Planet of Medford won the pool with a 4-pound porgy. Reservations are required. Call 732 528-5014.

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