Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Return of Fluke

Conservation Works!

Three North Atlantic Fluke
In the Northeastern United States, we fish the Atlantic Ocean and the connected bays for a range of salt water fish species in the spring, summer and fall. Among these are Striped Bass (called “Rockfish” in the Carolinas), Bluefish, Sea Bass, Porgies (sometimes called “Scup”), Winter Flounder and Summer Flounder. Summer Flounder, often called “Fluke,” are the subject of this post.

When I first started salt-water fishing regularly 35 years ago we didn’t bother to target Fluke often, because they were fairly rare. During the past decade, though, Fluke fishing has improved a great deal – today, we routinely catch more and larger fish. I credit New York State fisheries management  for their conservation efforts. They raised the minimum keeper size from 14” when I was a kid to 20” and even 21” some years, and kept the “bag limit” (the number you can keep per day) low. Through the management of regulations and measurements of fish stocks, they have helped the Fluke come back strong in my lifetime. The result has been great. The Fluke have had a chance to build back their numbers and we can see a clear increase in the total fish stock over the years.

Today, the limits for recreational fishermen in NY State are a minimum of 19” ( down from 21" in years past), with a bag limit of 5 fish per angler per day (up from 3 in years past). Limits have been relaxed because of the recovery of the fish stock.

A Keeper

These days when we fish, there’s plenty of catch-and-release fun with smaller fluke (most of which are 16” or larger), and often there can be one or two larger fish (over 19”) to take home for a fresh fish dinner. Watching a species recover over the years is very satisfying, and gives me hope for the recovery of some of the other species of fish which today remain endangered or nearly so. If we can all work together to keep the waters clean, and fish responsibly (both recreational fisherman and commercial fishermen!), there will be fish for our children and grandchildren to catch for many years to come.


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