2007-09-07 / Community

Fluke Season Extended Two Weeks Water's Open Until September 17

By Howard Schwach

Anglers who fish Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean off Rockaway's shores can breathe a sigh of relief this week after a report by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) extending the suspended fluke fishing season for two more weeks.

Last week, the DEC, alarmed that so many fish had been taken during this fishing season, abruptly cancelled any further fluke fishing after September 4.

This week's announcement extends the season two weeks, to September 17.

While commercial fishermen are exempt, weekend fishermen are still angered by the ban, caused, the DEC says, by excess fishing this season.

"New York State has exceeded the federal fluke quota and we must suspend the season in order to preserve the stock for next year," a DEC spokesperson said in a prepared statement.

Preliminary data released by the DEC show that the limit of 430,000 has been exceeded. Last year's limit was 650,000 fluke taken in New York State waters.

Fluke is popular with local anglers for more than one reason.

The fish, also known as summer flounder, is said to be tasty and a good fighter; it is also often available in local waters, even into the month of October.

Under current New York regulations, a recreational fisherman can keep only four fluke each day and each must measure at least 19½ inches long.

New Jersey allows the taking of up to eight fluke, even if they are only 17 inches long.

One fisherman, who asked not to be identified, said that people from New Jersey are fishing New York waters, but following New Jersey rules.

"Most of the fluke large enough to keep are found three to five miles off the shore," he said. "Nobody is catching fish that size in Jamaica Bay."

The fish lives in coastal waters until early October, when they go back to sea, the Rockaway fisherman said.

He added that ending the fluke season will impact other species of fish, such as porgies and sea bass.

"People are not going to stop fishing this early in the year," he said. "They're just going to decimate other kinds of fish."

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