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After several public hearings and much debate, the 2018 marine fishing regulations have been set for 2018 with several important changes to note.
By Toby Lapinski  |  March 26, 2018
Be sure to review the changes in recreational marine fishing regulations before making that first cast of 2018!

It happens every year; in order to comply with annual catch data and updated stock assessments, states up and down the coast must adjust their marine fishing regulations (both commercial and recreational.) While in theory it theory it makes sense to adjust regulations to take into account overages in allocated landings from year to year, such action requires accurate catch data and that is something that we are severely lacking. This annual adjustment also doesn’t take into account year-to-year changes in the ecosystem which may have an effect, either positively or negatively, on both the annual catch and population of a given species. But alas, it is the system in which we currently live.

If you take issue with any of the changes this year keep in mind that public comment is always taken into account when changes are considered each year and every state in New England (and beyond) have public hearings and written comment periods for you to voice your concerns and provide input. Further, if you’d like to assist in contributing to more accurate catch data, you can help by completing recreational trip reports in your state.

So with that all said, the first state in New England to announce its official slate of 2018 recreational marine fishing regulations is Connecticut. Regulations noted in BLACK below remain consistent with 2017 regulations, while those noted in RED indicate changes for 2018.

If you live and/or fish in one of the surrounding states, the final slate of regulations remain pending and public hearings are scheduled in the coming days.

New York is holding a public hearing on March 27 to discuss black sea bass.

Massachusetts is holding a public hearing on March 28 to discuss its 2018 recreational fluke (summer flounder), black sea bass, and scup fisheries.

Most of the recreational fish species sought by Connecticut anglers are managed by fishery management plans developed and implemented by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC). The Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act requires that states comply with mandatory provisions of these plans. Upon consideration of public comment obtained at an ASFMC Public Hearing for tautog on June 26, 2017, an ASFMC Public Hearing for black sea bass on January 10, 2018, a DEEP Public Meeting regarding tautog, summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass on March 5, 2018, written comment, and comment from the Marine Advisory Group at a meeting on March 12, 2018, the management measures for tautog, summer flounder, scup and black sea bass have been amended as indicated below.

The 2018 regulations governing recreational fishing are as follows:

American Eel
Minimum Size: 9 inches, Creel Limit: 25 fish

American Shad
Open Season: Year Round. Creel limit: 6 fish (in aggregate with hickory shad). American shad may only be harvested from the Connecticut River system, the southern boundary of which is a line extending between Griswold Point in Old Lyme and the outer light on the Old Saybrook breakwater. American shad fishing in all other waters is limited to catch and release only

Atlantic Menhaden (bunker, pogy)
Creel Limit: 50 fish or 5 gallons, whichever is the greater amount

Black Sea Bass
Minimum Size: 15 inches
Open Season: May 19 to July 17, inclusive, Creel Limit: 3 fish
Open Season: August 7 to December 31, inclusive, Creel Limit 5 fish
Minimum lengths exclude the dorsal tail filament or tendril.
Note: there is no longer a “bonus” creel limit for paying passengers on party or charter fishing vessels.

Open Season: May 1 to December 31, Minimum Size: 9 inches*, Creel Limit: 30 fish
Note: the party or charter fishing vessel “bonus” season of 45 fish from September 1 through October 31 for paying passengers remains in place.

Striped Bass
Creel Limit: Open Season: Year Round, Minimum Size: 28 inches, Creel Limit: 1 fish

Note: The bonus striped bass program will continue in 2018 with 3,018 fish allowed for harvest. Stripers harvested under the bonus program are required to be tagged. Tags and accompanying catch report cards will be available at agency offices beginning in late April. The bonus program season runs from May 1 through December 31. This year there will be one tag available per angler. See the 2018 Angler’s Guide for more information.

Summer Flounder
Open Season: May 4 to September 30, inclusive, Minimum Size: 19 inches*, Creel Limit: 4 fish

Minimum Size at all times: 16 inches.
Open Season: April 1 to April 30, inclusive, Creel Limit: 2 fish
Open Season: July 1 to August 31, inclusive, Creel Limit: 2 fish
Open Season: October 10 to November 28, inclusive, Creel Limit: 3 fish

Open Season: Year Round, Minimum Size: 16 inches, Creel Limit: 1 fish

Winter Flounder
Open Season April 1 to December 31, Minimum Size: 12 inches, Creel Limit: 2 fish

*Enhanced Opportunity Shore Angler Program:
At 45 public shore fishing sites, the minimum sizes are adjusted as follows (creel limits and open season dates remain as above):

Summer flounder: Minimum Size: 17 inches
Scup: Minimum Size: 8 inches

For further information, contact the DEEP Marine Fisheries Program by email at, by mail at P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme, CT 06371 or by telephone at 860.434.6043 between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

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