South Jersey Fishing: Back Bay Flounder Bounty
The grumbling-to-vitriolic commentaries continue, as expected, but for the southern coastal county summer flounder anglers, the “way early” (May 2) opener compared to what had become accepted as the traditional Memorial Day weekend Saturday opening in years past, is proving what has been proclaimed all along: flounder fishing is better in the back bays during late April and through May and into early June.
The new regs include a whopping 149-day season that extends through September 27, pretty much three weeks longer than during previous years. Also, the daily limit remains at three, except this year it’s two fish at 17-17.99 inches, and one 18-inches or greater.
It’s been three at an 18-inch minimum for years, save for one blip several years ago when it was a three-fish limit at a 17.5-inch minimum. And at that, one Pt. Pleasant party boat owner acknowledged that that minuscule-but-long half-inch difference made a difference.
“I had a lot of customers on board who complained that they had to throw back 17-1/2 to 17-3/4 inch fluke in years past. Now, they were able to bring dinner home. It was a big difference.”
Sadly enough, it went back to 18-inches the next year.
For the skinny water (read: bay, tidal river, and along the beach) south Jersey flounder seeker, it’s a win-win. Bring a couple of fish, if not a trio, home for dinner. While most South Jersey charter captains and private boat door mat and area rug cleaner sharpies are totally opposed, well, after all these years, it’s the other guy’s turn.
Only one big fish? That’s how it goes for this season. Next year’s regs can, and no doubt will change via the uproar.
Top bay baits include the 3 and 4-inch Gulp! Shrimp, the 2-inch Gulp! Peeler Crab, the 3 and 4-inch Gulp! Swimming Mullet, all on jig heads or 1/4-3/8 oz. bucktails and the tried ‘n true squid/minnie or minnie/mackerel strip combo.
Oh. There are some big fish to be had in the back, right into early June. Take advantage of the early season. The legal length and specimen flatties are hungry. Sharpen that fillet knife!