Originally scheduled for the opening day of the New Jersey fluke season, the Take It To The Limit Summer Flounder Tournament back in support of the support the Save The Summer Flounder Fisheries Fund (SSFFF) will now be held on Saturday, May 28, 2016.

Presented by Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, entry is $50 per boat, with $25 going directly to SSFFF; the other $25 will be paid out in prizes to the first three places. There’s also a kayak division being run separately from the Boat Division (since there will most likely only be one person to a kayak) for $25, and again with a 50/50 breakdown for SSFFF and the first, second and third place prizes.

An additional $1,000 bounty is being offered by Yamaha for the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) member scoring the largest summer flounder of the contest. You must be an active, current RFA member (go to www.joinrfa.org or update your membership by calling 888-JOINRFA).

Regular contest prizes will awarded for the heaviest limit (total weight of five summer flounder, with all five fish weighed together. In the event of an exact tie, the boat with the largest single fish will be the winner. First place payout is 50%, second place is 30% and third place is 20% of fees. Other prizes will also be offered by tournament sponsors which include Bimini Bay, Spiderwire, Penn, Gulp!, Salt Life, Spiderwire, Shimano, Z-Man, Tony Maja Products, Quantum, Run Off Lures, Tsunami, and The Fisherman Magazine.

SSFFF is currently helping to fund research which hopes improve upon the best available science in the summer flounder fishery. Through support from anglers, industry and the federal government, the researchers from both Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension and Rutgers University in New Jersey are hoping to create a new sex-integrated model that will provide better understanding and analysis of the fluke fishery along the Atlantic Coast. While some recreational intercept surveys coordinated today provide both age and length data for federal fisheries managers, there is very little data on the sex of the fish caught by anglers which is creating a level of uncertainty only impacting season, size and bag limit, but it may also be impacting the fishery itself.

When completed, SSFFF and supporters are hoping this new and comprehensive initiative will shed more light on the stock size and how to best create a refined assessment model to more accurately portray the state of the fluke fishery, particularly with regard to spawning stock biomass and recruitment. Organizers and researchers stress this is a long-term project, and they’re hoping to present this information at the next Peer Review, which is expected sometime in 2017 or 2018. “We’re on the right track now, but things are coming up and we’re going to need money,” said SSFFF representative Greg Hueth said of the ongoing scientific work, while adding “while we’re building this model, we’re actually getting cooperation with the government.”

Weigh-in will be all day Saturday at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center until 6 p.m. Boundaries are from Little Egg Inlet to Great Egg Inlet and all the back bays easily accessible from those areas. The tournament will run in conjunction with the Absecon Bay Sportsman Center’s free "Customer Appreciation Grand Slam Tournament" and all entries will automatically be entered in this tournament; any of the other species, striped bass, bluefish, weakfish and black drum caught by Take It To The Limit participants will qualify for additional prizes.

For information, visit Absecon Bay Sportsman Center at 81 Natalie Terrace in Absecon, call 609-484-0409, and be sure to visit www.ssfff.net.

The summer flounder (fluke) season in New Jersey marine waters will begin on May 21 and run through September 25, with a five fish bag and 18-inch size limit for most coastal waters. A new initiative to help provide improved fishing opportunities for New Jersey anglers fishing on Delaware Bay will allow for a 17-inch minimum size and four fish bag limit west of the COLREGS line in the Delaware Bay. Anglers will also be allowed to transport 17-inch summer flounder through Cape May Canal and up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) as far north as the Route 47 (George Redding) Bridge, so long as all fishing gear is stowed and anglers don’t stop to fish on the way back to port.