The first step was taken this week to increase the size limit for flounder in South Carolina’s waters. H 3665 General Bill was introduced into the South Carolina State House by Rep. Bill Hixon of District 83.
The new bill proposes to move the flounder size limit from the current 14 inches to 15 inches. The creel limit remains unchanged by this proposal (15 per angler, not to exceed 30 per boat).
The bill also does not mention any changes to gigging regulations.
Capt. Englis Glover of Murrells Inlet is in support of the new proposal.
“With the growing number of anglers targeting flounder on our water, it is a proactive movement to protect our fish for future generations,” said Glover, who also encourages others to reach out to their legislators for support of the bill.
While a mixture of reactions is expected from such a proposal, so far the consensus among anglers is that it’s a good bill. Some, however, think it doesn’t go far enough.
Without a change in the creel limit, it’s not bound to help the flounder population very much, say some anglers. Other anglers disagree, with one Murrells Inlet angler saying ever since the limit has been 14 inches, almost every flounder he’s caught has been within an inch of that size.
“I’m retired and I fish a lot. And I fish year round. I catch a lot of flounder, and the vast majority of the ones I catch are between 13 1/2 inches and 14 1/2 inches long. It may take a year, but at some point, the flounder I catch are going to all be between 14 1/2 and 15 1/2 inches long. I wish they would have proposed it at 16 inches. It’s the only way to give the fish a chance to get bigger,” he said.
“As far as the creel limit not changing, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I would be fine if they dropped it to 10 per angler, but overall, when you move the size limit up, fewer fish will be getting taken out of the water, at least for some time until the fish grow enough. Maybe they can look at changing the creel limit then,” he said.
“We wanted less on the bag limit, but it may be a while for that. Maybe the 15 inches will do it itself,” he said.
Sweet Tea Charters’ Capt. Fred Rourke, is also in favor of the new proposal. When asked if he thought gigging has done more damage than fishing, he said he doesn’t think gigging is the problem that many people do.
“It’s easy to point fingers at giggers and say they’re to blame for the decline in flounder populations, but the fact is, the vast majority of the guys that gig – I’d say 95 percent of them – are just like 95 percent of rod and reel anglers. They follow the rules to a T. Gigging isn’t going away. They will be bound by the same rules as other anglers, and I’m not going to argue that it should be any different for them,” he said.
The bill still has to go through the legislative process, so for now, the size limit is still 14 inches. For many anglers, hopefully that will change sometime this year.