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Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has officially decreased the summer flounder size limit by a half-inch for the 2018 season.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  April 23, 2018
Frank shows off a 20-inch fluke he had to throw back while fishing for stripers and blues behind Absecon Inlet aboard the Highroller on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Photo courtesy of Highroller Fishing.

On April 20, 2018, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced that the summer flounder minimum size has been reduced to 16-1/2 inches, half an inch less than the previous 17-inch minimum size for anglers. Summer flounder season remains open year round and the possession limit remains at four summer flounder per person per day in Delaware waters.

The minimum size was reduced as per the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Addendum XXVIII to the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan. The most recent size change was adopted through an emergency regulation due to insufficient time to adopt the regulation through the standard regulatory process before flounder move into Delaware waters this spring. The required standard regulatory process to adopt the regulation, including a public hearing and comment period, is being initiated.

Over the April 21-22 weekend, Lighthouse View Tackle in Lewes, DE reported on the first keeper summer flounder of the 2018 season, an 18-incher taken from the fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park. Meanwhile, the Atlantic City based Highroller – a 50-foot pontoon boat that runs back bay fishing trips behind Absecon Inlet – hit a pair of summer flounder that had to be released over the weekend while targeting striped bass and bluefish.

Of course, New Jersey anglers won’t be able to legally target fluke until May 25. Earlier this month the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council approved 2018 summer flounder season to run from May 25 through September 22 with a three fish bag and 18-inch size limit for nearly the entire state. While there was an option to add days to both the beginning and end of the season, the majority viewpoint of Council, its advisors and most attendees was that adding days to the end of the season to close the gap between the fluke close date and sea bass opener was more important.

As was the case in 2017, Delaware Bayshore anglers in the Garden State will once again fish on a 17-inch size limit with a three fish bag limit. In 2016, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) created a secondary set of fluke regulations along the Delaware Bayshore to address the discrepancy of the summer flounder size limits in the Delaware Bay with the state of Delaware.

The 17-inch size limit is allowed in all New Jersey waters within the Delaware Bay and tributaries west of the COLREGS line from Cape May Point Light to Cape Henlopen; a vessel may transport summer flounder greater than 17-inches but less than 18-inches through the Cape May Canal to the northern terminus of the George Redding Bridge (Route 47) only if all fishing gear is stowed with rigs removed and the vessel does not stop to fish for any species while in transit.