As we have been reporting throughout the winter, recreational anglers will be seeing a few changes in regulations for several species in 2017 across New England and beyond. Northern New England anglers have been most interested in cod and haddock, while to the south the summer staple fluke has garnered much of the debate. Also of note, black sea bass regulations might be adjusted in some states while in others they will remain status quo.

Cod were the first to hit the chopping block as a “no retention limit” was established for the waters of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) in 2017. This follows a 1-fish limit and 6-week season in 2016.

Haddock, now receiving much of the fishing pressure in the GOM, was cut back slightly from 2016 with a 12-fish per-person bag limit, 17-inch minimum length and two closed seasons as follows: September 17, 2017 through October 31, 2017 March 1, 2018 through April 14, 2018.

These changes will obviously put more pressure on haddock, but other species like redfish and pollock are also going to see even more interest going forward.

Connecticut was the first New England state to finalize both its fluke and black sea bass regulations, sending out notice on Friday, March 10, with mixed feedback so far. As of the release of the notice, black sea bass regulations will remain the same as 2016 for the 2017 season. Those regulations are as follows: Open Season: May 1 to December 31, inclusive, Minimum Size: 15 inches, Creel Limit: 5 fish.

This comes as highly welcomed news for both recreational anglers as well as the for-hire fleet who have come to really heavily on the overly-abundant black sea bass inside Long Island Sound. With bluefish catches being unreliable at times, the 1-fish limit on striped bass, blackfish season being closed for much of the early summer, weakfish almost nonexistent, a 2-fish limit on winter flounder and fluke catches being tough to come by at times, the black sea bass (as well as the mighty scup/porgy) have quickly become a staple of their business.

It is well worth noting, however, that the official press release included the reference that "Rules for black sea bass may change during 2017" which means that we may in fact have to pay back the anticipated overage incurred by both New York and New Jersey in 2016 as Connecticut is bunched in with these states as part of the regional management process. We will be sure to pass along any developments as they are made public.

Also included in this press release is the official announcement of the fluke/summer flounder regulation amendments for 2017 as follows: Open Season: May 17 to September 21, inclusive, Minimum Size: 19 inches*, Creel Limit: 3 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: 9 inches.

Complete details on the Enhanced Opportunity Shore Angler Program may be found online.

Stay tunes as additional states announce their official 2017 regulations and The Fisherman Magazine brings you this breaking news!