TRENTON — Larger sized J-hooks that help anglers land bigger fluke — and prevent the need for releasing and injuring small fish — are now being distributed for free at local bait-and-tackle shops.
It’s part of the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection’s "If You Can't Keep It, Save It!" campaign to educate the fishing public on how to safely release fluke, or summer flounder, that are returned to the water because they do not meet minimum size requirements.
Since fluke is one of New Jersey's most important recreational and commercial fish species, the effort focuses on the proper methods and gear to use to reduce unintentional mortalities when these fish are released back in the ocean and other coastal waters.
"We are asking all anglers to help protect summer flounder for future generations," DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. "New Jersey is fully committed to doing the right thing by using science and public education to conserve a species that is critical to the fishing culture and economy of New Jersey."
The DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife, in coordination with the American Sportfishing Association and Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle Co., are distributing at no charge 20,000 larger-sized J-hooks at local bait-and-tackle shops, including:
- Fishermen's Den, 905 Route 35 in Marina Grille Building, Belmar
- Mac’s Bait and Tackle, Route 1301 Route 35, Neptune
- Bogan’s Deep Sea Fishing Center, 800 Ashley Road, Brielle
- MV Tackle, 420 Euclid Avenue, Brielle
- Reel Seat Bait & Tackle, 707 Union Avenue, Suite 101, Brielle
- L&H Woods and Water, 2045 Route 35,Wall
The "If You Can't Keep It, Save It" campaign comes on the heels of U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s recent decision to uphold New Jersey's size, bag limit and season length regulations for the current summer flounder season.
Earlier this year, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to increase the size of fish that could be legally taken in New Jersey, a move that could have had severe economic impacts on the shore's tourism economy. However, the DEP provided data that demonstrated the increased size limit would have resulted in high rates of discard mortalities and would have forced anglers to keep female breeder fish, which account for the vast majority of the largest fluke found in New Jersey waters.
The summer flounder season in New Jersey runs through September 5. The minimum size is 18 inches for summer flounder for most coastal waters, including the ocean, estuaries and creeks. Anglers in these areas may keep three legally sized fish per day. The size limit for Delaware Bay is 17 inches, with a three-fish per day limit. At Island Beach State Park, the size limit for shore fishing is 16 inches, with a daily two-fish limit.
TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TAPintoBelmarLakeComo and on Twitter at @TAPintoBelmar.