Ouch! Season & Limit shrink for flounder

MOREHEAD CITY –The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries announced this week that the 2022 recreational flounder season will open at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 1 and close at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 30. The season will open with the following provisions for both the recreational hook-and-line and gig fisheries:

  • A one-fish per person per day creel limit.
  • A 15-inch total length minimum size limit (from the tip of the snout to the tip of the compressed tail).

Harvest of flounder with a Recreational Commercial Gear License will be prohibited.

The season and possession limits are meant to keep the fishery within the recreational quota approved in the N.C. Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3. Harvest restrictions are required because the 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment found that southern flounder is overfished and overfishing is occurring throughout the region (North Carolina through the eastern coast of Florida). Overfished means the population is too small. Overfishing means the removal rate is too high.

Amendment 3 also includes measures to implement possible ‘paybacks’ if the allowable catch is exceeded. Overages from the 2022 recreational season could impact the 2023 recreational season. A concept known as ‘Discard Mortality’ will be accounted for in the estimates of Total Allowable Catch. For this reason, the Division discourages anglers from targeting flounder for catch-and-release after they have caught their one-fish limit or when the season is closed.