Flounder fishing regulations changing: Minimum size, limits, and a seasonal closure

Flounder regulations change at the end of the month
Flounder regulations change at the end of the month

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The FWC’s discussed changes regarding flounder fishing will go into effect at the end of the month. Starting March 1, the following changes will go into effect for flounder:

  • Extending ALL Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission(FWC) flounder regulations into federal waters.
  • Increasing the minimum size limit from 12 inches to 14 inches total length (recreational and commercial).
  • Reducing the recreational daily bag limit from 10 to five fish per person.
  • Establishing an Oct. 15 through Nov. 30 recreational closed season.
  • For commercial harvesters using allowable gear: Establishing a commercial trip and vessel limit of 150 fish from Dec. 1 – Oct. 14, and 50 fish from Oct. 15 – Nov. 30.
  • Modifying the incidental bycatch limit for commercial harvesters using non-allowable gear from 50 pounds/trip to 50 fish/trip.
  • Creating a federal waters trawl bycatch limit of 150 fish/trip from Dec. 1 – Oct. 14, and 50 fish/trip from Oct. 15 – Nov. 30.

The minimum size limit increasing and the bag limit decreasing will have an impact on your fishing trips, but the largest impact for our area is the closure during the Fall. October-November is a popular time to fish for flounder in the St Johns River and surrounding areas. Several fishing tournaments that target flounder will also need to move to a time of year that it is legal to catch flounder.

The Commission approved these changes at its December 2020 meeting because a stock status update suggested that the flounder fishery statewide has been in a general declining trend and is likely overfished and undergoing overfishing on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Other south Atlantic and Gulf states have also reported declines in flounder populations and have been making their own regulation changes.