Flounder regulations to be discussed at DNREC meeting
The evening of Thursday, March 21, is going to be a busy time for Delaware recreational fishermen. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. on proposed regulations for invasive finfish. Snakeheads, blue catfish, flathead catfish, walking catfish and grass carp are considered invasive species, and the hearing will lay out proposed regulations for controlling them in Delaware. These new laws would include provisions to prohibit the sale, stocking or possession of live fish of these types.
At 6:30 p.m. the same evening, the topic of recreational summer flounder regulations for 2013 will be discussed. We have four options from which to choose: an 18-inch minimum size, four-fish possession limit and a closed season from Oct. 24 to Dec. 31; a 17.5-inch minimum size, four-fish limit and no closed season; a 17-inch minimum size, four fish-possession limit and no closed season; and a 16.5-inch size limit, four-fish limit and no closed season.
While the 16.5-inch minimum size limit may seem the obvious choice because it increases the chance of actually taking a flounder home for dinner, it is exactly that increased chance that could create a problem for 2014. As the law is written, should a state exceed its quota for a year, that overage must be made up the following year. In other words, we can keep a lot of flounder in 2013, but may end up keeping far fewer in 2014.
In 2012, Delaware harvested 38,470 flounder. The allowable take was much higher than that, and the 2013 quota is 78,512, which is considerably higher than the 2012 catch when we had an 18-inch limit and closed season from Oct. 24 to Dec. 31. By reducing the size limit and keeping the season open all year, we will increase the harvest by 10.1 percent with a 17.5-inch size limit, 40.1 percent with the 17-inch limit and 81.8 percent with the 16.5-inch minimum size.
No one would ever confuse me with a mathematical genius, but with the help of an adding machine and by rounding off the numbers to reduce confusion (mine), I have determined that the 81.8 percent increase would still leave us with a 10,000-flounder gap between the 2013 quota and the estimated catch with the 16.5-inch minimum size limit. If the recreational fishing public is willing to take the chance that they cannot catch more than 10,000 flounder above the estimate, it seems like the 16.5-inch limit is the way to go.
Both public hearings will be held in the DNREC Auditorium at 89 Kings Highway in Dover. Written comments will be accepted from Friday, March 1, to Friday, April 5. Email Lisa Vest, hearing officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901.
The trout season will open in Sussex and Kent counties Saturday, March 2. The Tidbury Pond in Dover and Newton Pond near Greenwood will be stocked approximately two weeks before opening day and have been closed to all fishing since last Saturday. The season will commence at 7 a.m. on opening day and will revert to one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset for the remainder of the season.
Each pond will receive 300 pounds of rainbow trout in the 11- to 13-inch size plus a few trophy fish weighing two pounds or more. The ponds will be restocked with the same amount of fish on Thursday, March 14.
In addition to a Delaware general fishing license, trout fishermen must purchase a trout stamp. Anglers such as me who have successfully passed their 65th year are not required to buy a trout stamp, but at $4.20 I would hope they do. The money received from the sale of the trout stamp is used to fund the stocking program for the following year.
I have fished Newton Pond on several occasions, and it is a great location for family fishing excursions. There is a very nice fishing pier with plenty of easy access, or you may choose to line the banks of the pond. A small ramp that can be used to launch car-top boats, canoes or kayaks is at the far end of the pond. Larger boats and gas engines are prohibited here.
As far as catching trout, there are almost as many baits and lures used as there are people fishing. It pains me to admit that fly fishermen seem to have better luck than the rest of us. They employ wet flies and a sinking line. I have had limited success using Berkley Trout Bait below a bobber or on a jig.
By the time the season opens, the trout have had time to spread out, and catching may take place anywhere around the pond. Even if you don’t have fishing success, opening day is a great social occasion.