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Captain's Focus

Below is Friday's column as submitted: SL3-28-14RISTORI FOR FRIDAYSHORE ANGLERS MAY GET A BREAK ON FLUKE Lost in all the bad news about summer flounder regionalization, that transfers N.J. quota to N.Y. and leaves us with an 18-inch minimum length, was the possibility that shore fishermen may be able to keep some 16-inch fluke in designated areas. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)  last year allowed Connecticut to provide a 16-inch minimum to shore anglers fishing in an area that could be closely monitored. That opportunity is now available to N.J., and our officials are considering setting up a program in Island Beach State Park. However, South Jersey members of the Marine Fisheries Council also want an area on Delaware Bay. Council summer flounder advisers were meeting last night to discuss adding other areas. That should be resolved at the April 3 Council meeting at 4 p.m. in Stafford Township Municipal Building, 260 East Bay Ave. in Manahawkin.  The seasons for fluke and sea bass will also be set at that time. JCAA president Paul Haertel expects the 128-day fluke season to open no sooner than May 17. It would be preferable for it to open slightly later in order to push the closure back to the latest date possible -- Sept. 30. That would provide anglers with something to fish for during part of the federal waters closure for sea bass from  Sept. 18 to Oct. 17.Haertel expects the sea bass season will open on May 19 with a 12 1/2-inch minimum. The bag limit could vary from 12 to 20, but Haertel has been trying to keep it on the lower side at that time in order to save enough quota to provide a by-catch of three to five sea bass or more during the summer rather than having a closure. The fall season would run after the federal waters closure -- from Oct. 18 to Dec. 31 with a higher bag limit.The JCAA took a position at its meeting this week in opposition to the beach replenishment and jetty notching  project in "Jetty Country" from Elberon to Loch Arbour. They urge all to write to the Army Corps of Engineers and their legislators in order to prevent destruction of that prime surf fishing area. E-mails can be sent to howard.ruben@usace.army.mil. For more information visit my blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing.Chris Zeman is the N.J. recreational member on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and also the angler who caught the largest striped bass in last year's Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County Fishing Contest.  Another name was used in last Friday's column.Very cold waters are set back spring fishing so far. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, said his skiffs didn't produce many winter flounder during Sunday's opener, but bulkhead fishermen did land some keepers.  He feels the flatties are there, and will bite with some warming of the waters.Tagged Fish from Highlands gave striper clamming a good try on Saturday, but there were no hits in the frigid waters. There have been a few short stripers caught by shore fishermen, and that fishing could turn on at any time. Capt. Howard Bogan switched his weekly 1 a.m. Saturday offshore wreck trip with the Jamaica from Brielle to Sunday last weekend due to the weather. That  payed off with a better pick of cod and pollock. Antonio Celis of Freehold boated a 26-pound cod and added two more plus a pollock. Randy Trembly of Freehold had five cod and three pollock. Joe Greco of Ft. Myers, Fl. (formerly of Edison) hosted Crazy Alberto Knie, Luis Gonzalez of Homestead, Fl.  and I on Saturday as we cast jigs into mangroves from his small boat to catch three slot red drum from 21 to 23 1/4 inches.  Keeper redfish in Florida have to fall between 18 and 28 inches.   Knie also released a short snook and a spotted sea trout.END

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