Recreational and commercial seasons are closed for now
It’s done. North Carolina’s recreational flounder fishery is closed. And we aren’t sure exactly how long until we’re able to tip our hats to the late Capt. Jimmy Price by “breaking the jaw” on a flounder again in North Carolina waters.
But one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be on like gangbusters when the fishery reopens. It was on like hotcakes all summer, and plenty of anglers saw it out with a bang earlier this week.
A lively debate has certainly ensued between recreational anglers and commercial anglers as to who is to blame for the closure. But both groups seem to agree that the closure is a sad day for all involved. And they both also seem to agree that 2019 was a banner year for catching North Carolina flounder.
At Neuse River Bait & Tackle in Grantsboro, David and Holt Mercer stopped by the shop on Monday with a nice mess of flounder. They caught their fish in the upper section of the Neuse, and one of the flatfish was a 22-inch, 5 1/2-pound citation flounder.
The flounder have been biting live bait and artificial lures
And just hours before the closure became effective, Jordan Williams and Stephen Herring, both who work at Neuse River Bait & Tackle, put in some time on the water. They caught a pile of fish, including several flounder. One was a 21-inch monster that hit a Z-Man MinnowZ in the last few minutes of daylight. As they said on their Facebook page, the folks at Neuse River Bait & Tackle finished flounder season off with a BOOM!
In Atlantic Beach, Chasin’ Tails Outdoors Bait & Tackle saw the same thing this week. Lindsay Bowman Harrell, her husband, and two sons came to the coast for some family time. They raked in the flounder on the last day of the season.
Among the Harrell family’s quarry were all three species of flounder. And Lindsay caught her personal best, a 4+ pound flounder.
“It was a great trip. The flounder are there. (I) hate this will be the last time for a while,” said Harrell.
And two days before the closure, shop regulars Amy and Thomas picked up some live mullet from Chasin’ Tails, then returned later to show off their bounty. Their two-person limit included four nice fish, including a whopper that weighed more than 6 1/2 pounds.
“Our shop alone has done more N.C. citation flounder over any other fish species on the list this summer. We weighed over 10 (citation flounder) in the last week!” Chasin’ Tails said on their Facebook page.
N.C. anglers caught numerous citation flounder throughout 2019
And over Labor Day weekend, James Joyner brought in a 7-pound flounder. He caught it on a live finger mullet in the Cape Lookout area.
And the day before that, Ricky McCollum brought in his own 7-pounder. McCollum caught his fish on a live minnow
Just in time for school to start back, youth angler Thomas Heath caught and weighed a 6-pound doormat. He caught the flatfish on a live finger mullet and a flounder rig he purchased at Chasin’ Tails.
This trend continued for even more anglers across the North Carolina coastline, leaving many wondering if the flounder ban is necessary. The commercial sector is dealing with a closure of their own. And even though they will have a short season before recreational anglers do, it’s a safe bet that once the recreational fishery opens back up, the bite will be even stronger than it was this summer.