Dick Herb is the acting chairman of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council.

As most local anglers know, New Jersey has been dumped in with New York and Connecticut to form a region to establish "equal" fishing quotas and regulations. Summer flounder is one of the species that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission dictates should be the same in all three states for size limits, daily possession limits and length of season. Herb also heads a flounder advisory committee that meets in advance to set up regulation options for each season. That was held Thursday night at the Marine Fishery Station at Nacote Creek near Port Republic.

Herb said Friday that it was the most "frustrating" meeting he has ever had. He said the reason is that so much is unclear concerning potential flounder regulations and quotas.

The thing he is almost sure about is that the minimum length for a keeper flounder likely will be 18 inches, a half-inch increase over last year.

The daily bag limit is still a question - it could be four, it could be five - and the members of the advisory council questioned how the length of the season would be regionally applied.

It would hurt locally and statewide if the season did not cover Memorial Day and Labor Day. Herb said he thinks it probably will. Herb is not only the acting chair of the state council, he is a charter boat captain of the Escapade out of Avalon and therefore a stakeholder.

He said the ASMFC has a board conference call scheduled for March 13 to resolve some of these issues, so the state flounder council decided to postpone any decisions at next Thursday's regular meeting and instead set up a special meeting in April.

Herb said even though Thursday's 4 p.m. meeting at the Atlantic County Public Library on Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway Township will not have the discussion and vote to set the regs, he strongly suggests anglers and stakeholders attend to make a statement for the record.

It is important. And the meeting should be a hot one!

Start fishing!

Today is the opening day of striped bass season in the back bays, rivers and streams in New Jersey.

For many, this is the start of the fishing season here. It has become a tradition for locals to "break the ice," to invoke an appropriate cliche.

The weather actually does not sound too bad. It has been a tough winter for anglers to find many weather breaks. But it looked as if the temperatures this afternoon would at least be a little warmer than they were the past couple of days, maybe Sunday, too, before the forecasted next round of winter weather arrives.

Some of the bait and tackle shops not only will be opening but seem to have bloodworm for bait. Bloodworm is the best bait for striper early in the season.

The start of the season likely will be different than last year, when striper were on a preseason feed, at least in the Mullica River.

And several season-opening contests and bounties have become interesting parts of the early season incentives.

Dave Showell runs his at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. He offers $200, $100, $50 shop gift certificates for first, second and third place in legal bass in the door, plus an extra $100 for the heaviest bass caught by someone who signs up on his Facebook page. He had eight weigh-ins on opening day last year.

Howard Sefton at Captain Howard's B&T has a Penn Battle 400 rod and reel combo for first legal fish, a 7-foot Shakespeare rod and reel for second and a special breast-cancer awareness rod-and-reel combo for third. Plus, he has a $50 gift bonus for the heaviest of the first three. Last year, Donald Bondiskey opened Captain Howard's at 7 a.m. and had the first weigh-in by 7:30.

Scott Albertson has his first-fish contest going at Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Island. You have to catch the first legal fish at either Graveling Point or Pebble Beach and weigh it at the tackle shop on Radio Road. Andy Grossman has a holdover contest going at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine.

Andy GrossmanRaising funds

And one last mention about the Ocean City Intermediate School's fishing club flea market. It runs today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the school gym (1801 Bay Avenue). They have 90 tables with new, used and vintage saltwater and freshwater gear for sale to fund club activities. Admission is $4.

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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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