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NJ Fishing Regulations Overview 2017

name Season Bag Limit Size Limit Note
Fluke CLOSED 5 18.00 Season Opens 2017-05-21

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Summer Flounder

(Paralichthys Dentatus)
 

Other Names:  Fluke, Flounder, Flatties, Doormat, Door Mat

General information 

The summer flounder, or "fluke," a flatfish is found in coastal waters from Florida to Maine. Like other flatfish, the fluke has both eyes on one side of its head and rests on the ocean floor on its side. The fluke is called a "left handed" fish because its eyes are on the upper surface of the head when the fish is facing left. Summer flounder behave as the chameleons of the sea. They have the ability to change color to match the bottom on which they rest. Generally they are white below and dark above, but they can turn various shades of gray, blue, green/orange and almost black.

NJ Fishing Season*

2017 Regulations are not finalized.  It is expected that NJ Fluke Regulations will be more restrictive for the 2017 recreational fluke recruitment.

May 21, 2016 - September 25, 2016 (5 fish per person, 18" min).

Island Beach State Park Surf Anglers (2 fish per serson, 16" min)

Delaware Bay Anglers (4 fish per person, 17" min)

It is Possible to catch Fluke in NJ waters from April - November.

*2016 Regulations were approved by the NJ Marine Fisheries Management Council on March 3, 2016 at the open meeting in Galloway public library.

NJ Fluke Regulations History
  1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Bag limit 10 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 6 6 8 5 5 5 5 5
Min Size(inches) 14.50 15.00 15.50 15.50 16.00 16.50 16.50 16.50 16.50 16.50 17.00 18.00 18.00 18.00 18.00 17.50 17.50 18.00 18.00 18.00
Season Length(Months) 12 12 5 6 3 4 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 3 5 5 4 4 4 4
Landings (1,000 MT) 10.6490 12.0030 10.9100 14.9930 11.8130 11.8270 13.6540 15.8210 15.1890 13.3160 11.8000 10.1480 10.1500 10.7790 12.3450 10.2970 10.2990 10.2050
Spawning Stock (10,000 MT) 2.4660 2.5671 2.7592 3.4070 3.9127 4.4610 5.0357 4.8549 4.5369 4.6178 4.4878 4.4768 4.6538 4.7499 4.5365 4.5342 4.1524 4.0323
Recruiting Stock (10,000 MT) 3.7159 3.9689 3.2881 4.3932 4.5789 4.9535 3.6830 5.2080 2.9481 3.6839 3.8196 4.5240 5.3409 3.6362 2.0265 2.2510 2.7278 4.1394
 

Summer Flounder Sizes 

Summer Flounder over 10 lbs. are consider "Doormats" and are rare, though it is believed the true upper end in size is somewhere around 25 lbs and live for 20 years (females). Males rarely exceed 7 years of age and 3 to 5 pounds in weight. Most Fluke are much smaller with most fish caught by fisherman being "shorts" somewhere between 14" - 17".

 
 
Weight
Catch Place
Catch Date
Angler
IGFA World Record
  22 lbs.  7 oz. Montauk, New York Sept 15, 1975 Capt. Charles Nappi
NJ State Record
  19 lbs. 12 oz. Off Cape May 1953 Walter Lubin
 

Food (Bait)

The summer flounder, which depends upon sight to capture its food, feeds most actively during daylight hours. Juveniles feed upon small shrimp and other crustaceans, while adults eat a variety of fish, including small winter flounder, menhaden, sand lance, red hake, silversides, bluefish, weakfish and mummichogs, as well as invertebrates such as blue crabs, squid, sand shrimp, opossum shrimp and mollusks. Adults are very active predators, often chasing schools of small fish to the surface and leaping out of the water in pursuit of them. This behavior clearly distinguishes the summer flounder from other more sluggish species of inshore flatfish.  In addition to live and other natural baits Gulp! are considered a 'Must Have' among experience Fluke Fishermen.

By far, the best Gulp bait for flounder are Swimming Mullet.  The curly tail action drives Fluke wild and will put them in your cooler.

 

Angling Tips

Fluke are well known for the aggressive "head shake" battle when hooked. They offer a particular challenge on light tackle. Average sized fluke, weigh about 2 to 4 pounds, while the aptly named "doormats" weigh 10 or more pounds and provide memories for the angler lucky enough to hook one. Summer flounder can be found on sandy or muddy bottoms in many inshore habitats and are particularly abundant in fast moving rips that gather debris and bait fish. It is possible to troll, chum, and cast for fluke, but the most popular method is drifting bait along the bottom. When drifting, the bail of the reel should be open and the line held by the finger. Once the line stops drifting and it tugged, it should run free for a moment to let the fish get the bait in its mouth before the hook is set.

Typical boat gear includes 15 to 20 pound test line on medium conventional gear to match the larger fish found in deeper water. Strip baits are necessary. These baits should be at most 1.5 inches wide at the top and at least 4 or 5 inches long. The bait should be cut with an inward taper so that the tail of the bait is more narrow than the head of the bait. This will give the bait a flutter action that Fluke simply can not resist. Squid is a staple to be used as strip baits, but many other choices exist. My ALL TIME favorite is fresh sea robin. Most fisherman combine the strip bait with an additional "meat" bait such as spearing, minnow, smelt, etc.

Fluke rigs typically consist of a sinker holder with a long lead hook.  The hook may be skirted or not.  Best color varies day by day but make sure you always have white and chartreuse on hand.   What is the best fluke rig?  Opinions vary but not many would argue that a 2 bucktail rig with a small bucktail for the top (teaser) and a heavier bucktail below is an awesome combination.

 

Reproduction

Both males and females become sexually mature at the age of 3. The numbers of eggs produced in a spawning season increases with females size and weight. A 14 inch female produces about 460,000, and a 27 inch female about 4,200,000 eggs in a season. Reproduction takes place in the fall, as soon as the fish begin migrating to wintering grounds. Peak spawning activity occurs from early September through early November in water temperatures of 53 to 66 degrees F and at depths of 60 to 160 feet. The center of spawning activity occurs off the coasts of New Jersey and New York and some in southern New England waters. The eggs float in the water column, hatching 3 days after being laid.

Habitat

Summer flounder inhabit inshore areas during the warmer periods of the year. Fluke prefer eel grass beds, mussel beds, reefs, etc. because of the protection they offer. In the summer, small and medium sized adults are found on the sandy and muddy bottoms of bays, rivers and along the open coastline. Most of the larger fish tend to stay in somewhat deeper water (55 to 80 feet). With the approach of fall, fluke migrate offshore to water depths from 150 to more than 500 feet.

Handling

Fluke should be iced immediately after capture. It is not necessary to bleed the fish. If they are iced in a cooler the melt water should be drained as needed so the fish do not soak in warming water.

Yeti Tundra 45 Quart Cooler - Ice Blue  

Cooking

The white flaky meat of the summer flounder is highly rated due to its delicate flavor and texture. This versatile fish provides delightful dining when steamed, poached, baked, broiled, sauteed, fried or microwaved. Large "door mats" can be quarter filleted for most recipes or cut into steaks and grilled over charcoal or gas.

 

 

Latest NJ Fluke Reports

  • 2017-01-27 Ristori Bay Head

    Despite the relatively short notice of a weekday morning rally at a time of year when many anglers (including me) are on vacation in warmer climes, Paul Haertel of the JCAA counted about 300 on hand to hear DEP Commissioner Bob Martin detail the potential economic disaster that a 19-inch fluke minimum and short season would ensure for Shore party and charter boats plus tackle shops. Martin assured the crowd that the DEP is doing everything possible to retain status quo regulations pending a new baseline stock assessment that many experts feel will show the summer flounder population is in much better shape than outdated estimates suggest.
  • 2017-01-26 Ristori Bay Head

    Fluke won't be coming inshore along the N. J. Shore for several months, but the effort to to save that season is winding into high gear during the 10 a. m. Friday public press conference by DEP Commissioner Bob Martin at Fisherman's Supply, 69 Channel Drive, Point Pleasant Beach. Yet, they will not be able to maintain that stand unless the ASMFC accepts status quo as an option when they meet next month in Kitty Hawk, N. C. Martin wrote a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commissioner this week in which he noted that the proposed regulations amount to a a defacto moratorium on summer flounder for the recreational fishing industry in New Jersey He further states that it threatens to jeopardize businesses such as bait and tackle shops and party and charter boats that cater to recreational anglers.
  • 2017-01-23 Ristori Bay Head

    With 60 mph northeast winds lashing the Shore, there's no local fishing news today, but Capt. Pete Grimbilas of the NJOA had some hopeful news about the fluke problem as DEP Commissioner Bob Martin has scheduled a rally for Friday at 10 a. m. in the parking lot of Fisherman's Supply in Point Pleasant Beach. Ric Gross, one of the regulars at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, fished out of Clearwater, Florida with his son on Two C's II during fine weather Wednesday that permitted a 13-mile run offshore to catch lots of hogfish up 7 pounds along with grunts, sea bass, porgies and puffers.
  • 2017-01-06 Ristori Bay Head

    As noted in yesterday's blog, several N. J. congressmen are supporting that position in the closing days of the Obama administration -- and there are high hopes that the Trump administration with its emphasis on economic growth will take a friendly approach to the status quo proposal. Prior to the hearing, the Marine Fisheries Council noted 9-1 for a proposal by Bob Rusch to adopt status quo fluke regulations for 2017.
  • 2017-01-05 Ristori Bay Head

    Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and a bipartisan group from the New Jersey Congressional delegation sent a letter to U. S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent rulemaking that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. The ASMFC set up inequitable distribution of the resource right from the beginning, forcing the public to release great numbers of edible-size fluke which can then be netted by commercial fishermen who get 60 percent of the fishery and only have a 14-inch minimum.
  • 2016-12-29 Ristori Bay Head

    Only Option 1 provides for 18 inches -- but with a limit of just two fish and a season of merely 59 days that would doom much of the state's party boat fleet. Tom Fote, N. J. ASMFC Governor's Appointee, feels that even the best (Option 5 with a coastwise 128-day season of three fish at a 19-inch minimum) probably won't make the required reduction.
  • 2016-12-06 Seahunter Atlantic Highlands

    The spring Striper run was disappointing this year. Have a great Holiday Season and a safe winter.
  • 2016-12-03 Captain Ron Atlantic Highlands

    We had what i would call one of the best Fluke fishing seasons in 4 years. Huge Bluefish in Spring close to Home provided much needed action to start the season as the Striped bass fishing certainly was off.
  • 2016-12-03 Ristori Bay Head

    Huge bluefish in spring close to home provided much needed action to start the season as the striped bass fishing certainly was off. We did have a few days that were awesome but overall I wouldn't call it a banner year for striped bass.
  • 2016-12-02 ElaineB Highlands

    12 02 16 We had more wind today than forecast but it was west and a perfect direction for where we have been fishing lately!Green crabs and white leggers both worked today putting keepers in the coolers.