Longtime fishing columnist Mike Shepherd tells you what's biting, where to find them and how to catch them. His column appears Saturdays in The Press.

The Thursday afternoon meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council did not result in any decisions about summer flounder and sea bass regulations. Concerned anglers did make some comments that had an undercurrent of real frustration.

Mike Rothman runs the party boat Bonanza II out of Fortescue. He fishes almost exclusively on Delaware Bay.

The Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission recently elected to create regions to dictate equal quotas and regulations throughout each region. New Jersey has been shoved into a region with New York and Connecticut.

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That leaves anglers fishing on Delaware Bay out of New Jersey on a mid-bay border with the state of Delaware. The New Jersey flounder size minimum for a keeper is a lock at 18 inches. Delaware's is 16 inches.

That puts New Jersey party boat and charter boat captains and private boat operators at an obvious disadvantage.

Rothman said at Thursday's meeting at the Atlantic County Public Library in Galloway Township that the border barrier in Delaware Bay has him in a "bad spot".

"I am Delaware Bay fishing," Rothman said Friday in a phone interview. "This is what I do. ... I just want to make a living. I thoroughly enjoy what I do.

"I'm not giving up," he added.

Approximately 60 concerned citizens attended the session in a crowded room, and a significant number of them went to the floor to get on the record, which acting Marine Fisheries Council chairman Dick Herb strongly urged them to do.

Rothman said he felt he had a "box to stand on" and took the opportunity Thursday. And he believes he was not just making a point for other Fortescue and Delaware Bay professionals but also for a lot of people "who don't have that box to stand on."

He joined a growing list of concerned anglers who know that they have to get people involved, not just guys in the industry.

"Everybody should have a say," Rothman said.

He said one of his rewards is to get the kids involved. He participates in two Cumberland County Sherrifs Hooked on Fishing Not Drugs programs. He said you are "selling" entertainment and providing the opportunity to get kids away from what he described as "some of that other trash".

He said it used to be all you had to do was go fishing and come home with dinner. "Now you need a book to figure it out."

'Thinking flounder'

Dave Showell is a regular at the Fisheries Council meetings in Galloway Township. It's just a short hop from his Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. But Showell almost always takes advantage of the chance to make a comment.

One point he made had to do with how to apply the 128-day season mandated by Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council for the three-state region.

Dave grabbed a calendar and made a count of the days. He said the state could cover both of the all-important Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. And, the season could start as early as May 3 or go well into September.

Showell says earlier is better for business. He thinks everyone is more excited about the start of the season rather than the end. He said the average guy is the money-maker, and they are likely to spend more when they are getting ready to start the season.

"Thinking flounder" is what gets them going, Showell said. And if the start date is established well ahead of time, then the average angler can count on an opening day a month ahead of time. Showell also knows that the party boat and charter boat captains might have another preference, and the surfcasters are more likely to catch flounder from the beach in September and into the fall.

Showell also suggested that when the N.J. Marine Fisheries Council hears from the Atlantic States council about the questions raised about a daily possession limit of four or five and how the open-season dates can be applied, that it should be "something sensible" and "don't micro-manage."

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council will have a summer flounder, black sea bass and porgy board conference call Thursday to clarify its edicts. So a special N.J. Marine Fisheries Council meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, April 4 at the Stafford Township Municipal Building in Manahawkin. At that time, the summer flounder regulations for size limit, possession limit and season will be established for this year.

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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays in the Sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or email:


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