Ocean City Today

Maryland DNR reduces minimum size for flounder by half inch

By Greg Ellison | Mar 29, 2018
Source: File Photo

(March 30, 2018) Just in time for the 2018 fishing season kicking off this Sunday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has reduced the minimum size for summer flounder from 17 to 16.5 inches.

In February, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries commission approved a reduction to the minimum size for flounder, while retaining the previous creel limit of four.

Mark Belton, secretary of natural resources, said in a statement the size change would apply to those using commercial hook and line rigs, while the minimum size for flounder caught in Maryland waters with other commercial gear would be 14 inches.  The season runs through the end of the year.

Nick Clemente, Get Sum Charters owner/operator, is relieved the size limit, which was raised to 17 inches last year, has returned to previous levels.

“I’m happy it’s back [because] we threw back a lot of 16.5-inch flounder last year,” he said. “They probably didn’t need to raise it to 17 inches.”

Regardless of measurements, Clemente said most anglers are not going to reel in flounder for a bit.

“It’s hard to say when the fish will start biting,” he said. “We won’t see flounders for a few weeks until the water temps warm up.”

Most bites don’t occur until waters warm above the mid-50s, Clemente said.

“We’re getting … ready now … to have the boats in by April 15,” he said.

Last year, milder winter weather resulted in earlier flounder catches, which is less likely during 2018, Clemente said.

“It will be a little later this year ... but we’re guessing,” he said.

For those looking to reel in flounder in the bay in early April, Clemente recommended fishing the outgoing tide.

“The water is warmer,” he said.       “On the bay side early on we fish in shallow water of 10 feet or less.”

Clemente does not envision the changes to flounder size limits having any significant environmental impact.

“Half an inch is not going to affect the stock,” he said. “In 2019, they’ll do another re-assessment and it could change again.”

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