Keeping up with current regulations these days can be a challenge to say the least. Between changes that occur over the course of the season, and public hearings concerning pending changes, the average angler can easily fall behind on what he can and cannot catch, despite the availability of electronic and print media that is constantly pumping out current info on seasons, size and bag limits. Despite coming face to face with fishing regulations on a daily basis, I sometimes find myself having to double check a regulation or two.
All the talk of reducing the blackfish limit this season to one fish in Long Island Sound has a lot of people asking if it is happening or not. At the most recent meeting of the ASMFC, it was suggested that perhaps the drastic reduction could be softened by reducing the number down to 30 percent, which would allow for a larger bag and spread the required reduction out over a longer period.
That could be good for anglers and the industry but maybe not so good for the fish. Blackfish stocks are down but through no fault of recreational anglers. Commercial pot fishermen and rod and reel commercials are putting a major hurt on the fish as they cash in on the gold mine that the live fish market has become. The illegal sale of live blackfish is rampant and something must be done to curb the abuse if we are to make a positive impact on restoring the fishery.
In the meantime, you can rest easy that this fall’s season will remain intact with no changes forthcoming until at least 2018. The current regs call for an October 5 to December 14 season, four fish bag and 16-inch size limit.
If you still haven’t had your fill of fluke, take note that there is less than a month to go in the season. Many areas are seeing the best fluking in quite a few years, with many more keepers finding their way into catches, and a surprising number of flatties in the 5- to 9-pound range being reported, especially in Montauk and along a lengthy stretch of the South Shore. The season runs through September 21.
Porgies, or scup, have been super abundant this season, with some areas seemingly overrun by the silvery panfish. The May 1 to December 31 season calls for a 10-inch minimum size limit and 30 fish bag, but between September 1 and October 31 the bag for party and charter boat anglers increases to 45.
Sea bass regulations will also see a change as of the first of September. The 15-inch size limit will remain in place but the bag limit will move from three fish to eight fish from September 1 to October 31. From November 1 to December 31 it will increase to 10 fish.
And if you are enjoying what is apparently a very good snapper season, remember that while the bluefish bag limit is 15 fish, no more than 10 can be less than 10 inches. Another reminder that if you catch a flounder this fall, the open season runs only from April 1 to May 30. And if you carry your fishing into the winter, and cod are abundant, the bag limit is still at 10 and the size limit at 22 inches.
I’ve also heard questions concerning the bag limit on weakfish. Just today I spoke to an angler who told me that he was able to pick five nice size weaks out of the 30 or so he caught during a recent trip to Noyack Bay. When I told him the limit was one, he couldn’t believe it. The guy happens to be an avid angler who normally follows the rules. He said someone in a tackle shop told him it was five.
When the DEC officer checks your bag, there is no excuse for ignorance so be sure to stay on top of the current regulations. They are available on your phone, tablet, computer and yes, in print, so a word to the wise should suffice.