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SL2-14-14RISTORI FOR FRIDAYA LONGER SEASON IN STORE FOR WINTER FLOUNDERby Al RistoriThough the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) dealt a blow to New Jersey on fluke by including us in a region with New York and Connecticut that results in an 18-inch minimum with four fish during a 128-day season, there was some good news from the recent ASMFC meeting as year-round recreational fishing was permitted for winter flounder.Unfortunately, anglers won't be able to take advantage of that opportunity right away because the Division of Fish and Wildlife has to go through the Marine Fisheries Council to make changes in state regulations. Though they intend to change the opening to March 1, the formalities probably won't be completed before the present March 22 opening. Actually, there's no reason to have any dates at all since the ASMFC has opened the entire year. Once in place, a shore fisherman fortunate enough to catch a flounder in the middle of the winter will be able to keep it, as will those party and charter boat anglers who hook the very large flounder that hang around  deep water wrecks in the summer. There will also once again be an opportunity to fish for flounder in the fall, which we gave up when management started in exchange for eliminating commercial fishing for winter flounder in the ocean -- though NMFS Regional Director John Bullard has since ignored that by allowing a commercial by-catch.Extending the recreational season has nothing to do with any improvement in winter flounder abundance. With recreational fishermen restricted to two flounder of at least 12 inches per day, it really doesn't make any difference how long the season is -- even for a species at historic scarcity.  That prevents any directed fishery by party boats, and discourages most private anglers due to the cost of fuel and bait when only two small fish can be retained. Tom Fote, N.J. Governor's Appointee to the ASMFC, points out that the real problem is the 5,000-pound per trip commercial "by-catch" that trawlers are allowed in federal waters. Flounder are concentrated in relatively near-shore ocean waters during the summer, and that so-called "by-catch" provides a good pay day while removing more flounder than anglers may catch all year. In 2012, the recreational landings plus discards for the entire Southern New England-Mid-Atlantic winter flounder stock came to a mere 14,110 pounds (less than 0.1 percent of the angling catch in 1982) while the commercial catch on that stock was 812,402 pounds.  In N.J., the Bureau of Marine Fisheries 2013  survey indicated a a sharp decrease in all winter flounder indices, and the lowest biomass indices in the last 21 years of the survey.The closure of directed commercial menhaden fishing in N.J. had tackle shops worried about bait supply, but it appears that a 6,000-pound daily by-catch will be allowed for those involved even though they aren't fishing for anything else. For more information about this plus fishing reports visit my weekly blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing.        The latest bout of Global Warming has kept boats in ports, but Capt. Howard Bogan is expecting better codfishing to result from much colder water temperatures. There was good news from Brielle as last Saturday's  wreck trips on  both the Jamaica and Jamaica II produced a decent pick of cod and pollock. Bogan reported cod up to 24 pounds were boated on the Jamaica, while John Kizman of Brick took the pool with a 32-pound pollock. Tyler Laracuente of Wall bagged two cod plus four pollock up to a 25-pounder.  Larry Sacacchetti from Hillsdale caught four cod. Some were jigged, but most of the cod and pollock hit bait.There were also a few ling and porgies. The Jamaica is sailing at 1 a.m. every Saturday, and has added 3 a.m. mid-range wreck  trips on Feb. 16 and 17. Capt. Ryan Bogan said his 3 a.m. trip on Jamaica II also produced some ling plus lots of silver eels (congers) and a few ocean pout.  The Hi-Mar Striper Club Fishing Flea Market runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Port Monmouth VFW. Admission is $5. The 37th annual World Fishing & Outdoor Exposition is coming up Feb. 27 to March 2 at Rockland Community College Field House in Suffern, New York. You can save $2 by buying tickets online at sportshows.com with the promo code :Postcard.The big show for saltwater anglers is coming up March 14-16 when the Somerset Saltwater Fishing Expo moves into the Garden State Exhibit Center.  Joe Holl of Ramsey was part of my group that fished at Pesca Panama during the last week in January, and he had some exceptional luck along with his son, Joe from Hasbrouck Heights, and son-in-law Mike Zusman of Midland Park. Holl had to get back a day early, but they still made the long run to Isla Montousa on  Thursday morning where all three released a black marlin trolling before returning in time for their afternoon flight.  Though inshore casting wasn't  good that week,  I released a 20-to-25-pound bluefin travally on my first cast off Isla Coiba with a chugger, and Bob Correll of Bay Head boated a 35-to-40-pound cubera snapper at the same time.

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