The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service has submitted this year’s recreational summer flounder regulations to the General Assembly for approval. The proposal limits coastal and Bay anglers to a three fish creel with a 19-inch minimum size from April 17 through November 22.
“After long and productive discussions with dedicated flounder anglers from the Atlantic Ocean City, coastal bays of Ocean City and Chesapeake Bay, this plan seems to do the most to encourage the enjoyment of our share of summer flounder while ensuring that Marylanders are doing their part to help restore the abundance of fish for the future,” said DNR Fisheries Director Tom O’Connell. “Of the management options that were available to Maryland, this plan will provide the longest fishing season which is of significant interest to sports fishermen as it will increase recreational opportunities and in turn support tourism and local businesses.”
The proposed regulations were ironed out with representatives from coastal and Chesapeake Bay sport fishing groups. They meet Federal requirements for preserving and restoring the nation’s summer flounder fishery by 2013, while protecting recreational opportunities for Maryland’s anglers to enjoy these hard-fighting and delicious fish.
Perhaps the most significant change from past years is the consolidation of the minimum size between Bay and coastal fisheries. Previously, coastal anglers fished with an 18-inch minimum and a creel limit of three a day. Bay anglers enjoyed a smaller minimum size of 16 ½ inches and a creel limit of just one fish per day. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission who is responsible for the management of flounder along the coast objected to the split rules due to the statistical difficulties that this system presented in assessing the recreational impact on the fishery and the fact that Maryland did not perform very well in staying below the recreational harvest targets in recent years.
DNR’s proposed regulations will also continue the practice of applying the recreational size limit on Maryland’s commercial hook-and-line fishery.
Anglers are also encouraged to participate in the management process by submitting volunteer angler survey information. Those who join the survey will become eligible to win a rod and reel combo donated by Keith Fraser, owner of All Tackle.com a fishing tackle retailer with superstores in Annapolis, Ocean City and online.
To register and earn a chance to win the rod and reel combo, anglers must fill out the survey at www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/survey/vasurvey.
In addition, Anglers who catch a citation flounder measuring 24 inches or longer will earn admission to the grand finale of the Maryland Fishing Challenge at Sandy Point State Park in September, and will be entered to win prizes in the year-long celebration of fishing in Maryland.
For details go to www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/recreational/tournament/mdsportfish