Summer flounder rules remain in effect at Island Beach State Park

     Fishing at Island Beach State Park. (Photo: Jennifer Husar)

    Fishing at Island Beach State Park. (Photo: Jennifer Husar)

    For the second season, shore-based anglers at Island Beach State Park will have to comply with state size and limit regulations for summer flounder, also known as fluke. 

    According to a bulletin from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Shore Based Enhanced Fishing Opportunity Program permits anglers to retain only two fish per day greater than or equal to 16 inches (total length) during the summer flounder season, which opened on May 22 and runs until Sept. 26.

    The program only applies to shore-based angling by hook and line and does not include fishing from a boat, kayak, canoe, or personal watercraft.

    Anglers that possess summer flounder caught at Island Beach State Park may harvest summer flounder outside the state park if they abide to the 18-inch size limit and five fish possession limit applicable to all other waters, the bulletin notes.

    Unlike last year, there will not be a check station for fluke measuring 16- to less than 18-inches.

    “Anglers are required to retain proof of legal entry to IBSP (park receipt) until returning home or until just prior to consumption if the fish are to be consumed prior to the angler returning home,” the bulletin says. “Those holding Mobile Sportfishing Vehicle Permits are required to request a receipt at the front entrance gate of IBSP.”

    The intention is to help shore fishermen, or anglers, hold on to their smaller catches instead of having to wait all day for an 18 incher, Paul Haertel, president of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, told NewsWorks last year.

    “I catch plenty of big fluke from my boat, but from the surf? I can’t remember the last time I caught one at 18 inches,” he said.

    Haertel said that allowing people to take home smaller fish improves their chances of having a successful day.

    “The reason we’re doing this is to try to help out the people who really need it – casual fisherman, kids, amateurs, people who need to bring a fish home – because for them a 16-inch fish is a big fish,” he said. “Before, they would have caught a fish this size and had to throw it back.”

    Tim Husar, a Jersey Shore angler who regularly casts from the beach, says the regulation is also humane.

    “Most fish that are at 16 inches will devour the hook, making it very difficult to release,” he said. “To me, this rule makes good use of a fish that would otherwise be returned by law and would die slowly after release.”

    For additional information, anglers can contact the department’s Marine Fisheries Administration at 609-748-2020.

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    NewsWorks’ Shumita Basu contributed to this report. 

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