Regional Fluke Limit Approved; Cod Fishing Has Hot Weekend

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For the first time in more than 20 years, New York anglers will be fishing under fluke catch limits that match those of neighboring states. Well, except those who fish off Montauk.The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) last week approved a trial run of a regional management program, lumping New Jersey, New York and Connecticut into a single management and quota region with balanced bag and size restrictions.

I don’t think the actual details have been finalized yet, but the consensus is that this new arrangement will mean a daily bag limit of four fish per angler at a minimum size of 18 inches. That is a big improvement for New Yorkers, but a stinging cut to the bag limits for anglers in both New Jersey and Connecticut. I’m sure we can expect major push back from their representatives next year when it comes time to discuss whether the regional approach should be made permanent.

For some odd reason, though I’m sure they have a goofy scientific rationale for it, the ASMFC did not include Rhode Island in the regional cluster with the tristate area. It seems like that would have made sense since most of their boats primarily fish in waters adjacent to Connecticut and New York, where there are lots of fluke, not to Massachusetts, where there are few of them.

So, that means that when you see a Point Judith party or charter boat drifting next to you in Block Island Sound next summer, those anglers are still fishing off a seven-fish limit, albeit with a 18.5-inch minimum size (that is assuming their regulations remain stable from 2013).

But we should not focus on what others are doing when we can focus on how much better things are for us than they used to be. Hopefully, the fluke cooperate.

Cod fishing was a total bail job for a few lucky days this week. Those anglers who hit the water Friday and Saturday found stacks of hungry cod working along open bottom southeast of Montauk and filled their totes and coolers.

The Viking FiveStar bailed fish on Friday until they were stacked to the covering boards, according to one of their web posts. The big boats found the fish, too, and high-hooks had their limits of fish into the high 20-pound class.

Unfortunately, the fleet hitting the cod grounds this year is significantly reduced from previous years, a product of spotty to poor fishing the last couple of seasons, so it’s harder for the handful of boats to keep track of the moving body of fish. When there were 10 party boats and a half dozen charters working a body of fish, if they disappeared overnight the fleet could spread out in a web until someone found them again. With only a few boats on the grounds, the captains have to go poking around and try to put some fish in the boat on the slow days.

That’s what happened Sunday. The big bite that had been on wasn’t. The boats that were out started bouncing and seem to have found a decent enough number of fish to keep customers satisfied, but it may take a few more days to get back on the hungry fish. Wednesday’s storm and three days of stiff northerlies look poised to shut things down for a few days anyway. Still, it’s good to know there are some solid cod in the area to give us something to go hunting for the next couple months.

A couple more nice little stripers were caught from local creeks and rivers this week.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

Antique Decoy Show March 1

The 43rd annual Long Island Decoy Show is coming up on Saturday, March 1. The show will be held at the IBEW convention hall in Hauppauge. This year’s feature exhibit will be root head Brant decoys from the Great South Bay area, along with the usual impressive line-up of local carvings and antique decoys and fishing lures.

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