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Major changes in striped bass and bluefish regulations are in place for the 2020 season.
By Fred Golofaro  |  March 10, 2020
If you want to take a striper home for dinner this season, it must measure between 28 and 35 inches.

New York anglers targeting striped bass and bluefish will be fishing under vastly different regulations this season. In the Marine District (all waters south of the George Washington Bridge), a slot limit between 28 and 35 inches will replace the 28-inch minimum size limit of previous years. All fish outside of the slot must be returned. After considerable discussion with our New Jersey neighbors concerning a later opening, possibly May 1, it was decided to leave the current April 15 to December 15 season in place. In the Hudson River, north of the George Washington Bridge, the slot of 18 to 28 inches remains in effect, however the option of keeping one trophy fish over 40 inches has been eliminated. The season on the Hudson remains April 1 through November 30.

Where bluefish are concerned, the bag limit has been drastically reduced from 15 fish to three fish for recreational anglers, and five fish aboard party and charter boats. And yes, the three fish limit does apply to snappers. Establishing a size limit was an option that would have met the required harvest reduction, but ultimately, states opted to go with the reduced bag originally put forth by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Three other key inshore species, fluke, sea bass and scup will remain status quo but in the case of sea bass and scup, getting there produced some scary moments. Based on current management formulas, both species were facing drastic cuts in harvest despite the stocks being way above their target levels – in the case of sea bass nearly 2-1/2 times their population target. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and it was agreed that status quo was the way to go, even though there were questions on its legality based on provisions of the Magnuson Act.

Given that, the porgy size limit remains at 9 inches with a 30 fish bag limit and there is no closed season. Those fishing aboard open and charter boats may keep 50 fish between September 1 and October 31. The sea bass size limit remains at 15 inches. The bag limit is three fish between June 23 and August 31 and expands to seven fish from September 1 through December 31. Fluke regulations will remain at four fish with a minimum size of 19 inches and a season of May 4 through September 30.

Blackfish regulations are divided into two regions - Long Island Sound and NY Bight. A 16-inch minimum size limit is in effect in both regions. There is also a spring season during the month of April with a two fish bag limit in both regions. The fall season in the Sound runs from October 11 through December 9 with a three fish bag limit. The Sound is considered all waters lying between the Throgs Neck Bridge to a line drawn from Orient Point to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. In New York Bight, which includes much of Block Island Sound, Montauk and the entire South Shore, the season opens on October 15 and runs through December 22 with a four fish bag limit in place.

Weakfish and flounder regulations remain status quo with very restrictive bag limits. Weakfish are under a one fish bag with a 16-inch minimum size limit and no closed season. Flounder hopefuls will fish under a two fish bag limit, 12-inch minimum size limit and a season that runs from April 1 through May 30.