For the rest of this month, anglers fishing for flounder in South Carolina’s waters can continue following the current regulations which allow them to take 15 flounder per day, all of which must be at least 14 inches long. But on July 1, the new regulations will lessen their daily catch limit to 10 flounder, all of which must be at least 15 inches in length.
The daily limit per boat will be 20 flounder per day, as long as at least two anglers are aboard, beginning July 1.
Moving the size limit up just a single inch should have a significant impact on flounder numbers in the next couple of years, according to SCDNR and CCA biologists. At 15 inches in length, flounder begin to contribute much more heavily to future populations. Fish that size have a better chance of spawning during the year, and spawn more heavily once they reach that size.
Anglers, of course, have differing views on the change.
“It’s not a big deal to me, even though I know many of the fish I’ve caught in the last few years would not be legal under the new law. Of all the flounder I’ve caught, I’d bet that 90 percent were between 14 and 15 inches long. So I’ll have to throw those back. But it should only take a year or two for all those throw-backs to grow another inch or even more,” said Carlos Fisher of Bluffton.
“I don’t mind having a year or two with fewer flounder. Once that’s over, we will have better fish, and we’ll have more because of the spawning efforts by the bigger fish,” he said.
Lewis Jefferies of Georgetown disagrees.
“It’s just another regulation to stop us from keeping fish to eat. The state isn’t hurting for flounder. There’s plenty of them and a 14 inch flounder is a good size to eat. Every time I turn around there’s another regulation making it harder to catch enough for a family meal,” he said.
Jefferies has another idea that he said would be more beneficial to the flounder population.
“They need to stop the giggers. They can go out at night and stack the flounder up in their boats. Flounder don’t have a chance against them. They probably kill more fish than any angler with rod and reel,” Jefferies said.
But Capt. Fred Rourk of Sweet Tea Charters (843-241-4767) said while giggers are an easy target, he doesn’t think they do any more damage than skilled anglers.
“They (flounder giggers) are an easy target, but they still have to abide by the same size and creel limit that anglers do. And I know my share of rod and reel anglers that can catch a limit on just about any day. Giggers will have to follow the new law just like the rest of us. There are far fewer people gigging, and I honestly don’t think they are any more responsible for a decline in flounder numbers than anyone else,” said Rourk.