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Captain's Focus

Paul Haertel. president of the JCAA, provides the following information from Thursday night's Marine Fisheries Council Adviser's Meeting. The summer flounder regulations are based on an 18-inch minimum and five-fluke bag which applies to our region. The Council can only set the dates for the 128-day season. Two options were put forward. Option 1 runs from May 17 to Sept. 21, and Option 2 from May 23 to Sept. 27. The majority favored the latter, as it will provide a fishery for a longer portion of the period when there's a sea bass closure in federal waters from Sept. 18 to Oct. 17. South Jersey anglers favor an earlier opening as they have good spring fluking and better business then. That would also work for the Governor's Surf Fishing Tournament at Island Beach State Park, which has been moved up to May 18 from the traditional October date in hope of getting better fishing results. There will be several options for sea bass, but the advisers unanimously endorsed a new one that provides (with a 12 1/2-inch minimum) a 15-sea bass bag from April 19 to June 30; three fish from July 1 to Aug. 31; 15 bass from Sept. 1 to 6 before a closure -- and then 15 again from Oct. 18 to Dec. 31. That option allows a by-catch of sea bass during the summer for fluke fishermen, rather than a closure. The Marine Fisheries Council will choose from among the options at the 4 p.m., April 3 meeting in Stafford Township Municipal Building, 260 East Bay St., Manahawkin. Unfortunately, the possibility of allowing a 16-inch fluke minimum for shore anglers (as noted in Friday's column)  was not approved by the advisers. The Division of Fish and Wildlife had proposed allowing that at Island Beach State Park, where it could be closely monitored. It may still be brought up by the Division at the April meeting, but it couldn't be adopted until the May meeting.     Coast Boating School will provide a weekend opportunity to obtain the required boating certificate this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Brick Elks Club on Old Hooper Ave. The standard $75 fee applies. Call Capt. Russ Binns at 732 279-0562 for registrations.

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