Skip to main content

Flounder Facing Multi-Prong Problem

Tampa Bay hard bottom flounder caught by Capt. Ray Markham.


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission concedes that southern flounder, the most popular of Florida's three flounders, is currently undergoing overfishing and is likely to be overfished. The FWC also states in an October 2019 stock assessment that the current fishing practices will continue to place southern flounder in an overfished state.

The history of flounder regulation in the state is straightforward: Prior to the net ban in 1995 there was none. Since January 1, 1996 flounder regs have remained unchanged; a 12-inch minimum with a ten fish recreational bag limit. Commercial limit? Besides the 12-inch minimum, there is none. Unlimited harvest.

Based on interviews with longtime and professional anglers from around the state, we're long overdue for a flounder intervention.

“It's horrible,” said Capt David Borries, Jacksonville, when asked to describe the current state of the flounder fishery. Richard Patton, a longtime Sebastian resident lamented, “I've watched it go from paradise to nothing in 45 years.” A similar sentiment was expressed from Capt. Jordan Todd, Port St. Joe: “It's nothing like it used to be.”

Without a doubt there seems to be total agreement that flounder stocks are, er, floundering. Commercial landings tell a similar story. According to FWC's Commercial Fishing Landings, pounds per trip were down 42% in 2018 vs. 2011. A total of 363,466 pounds were brought in in 2011, dropping to 153,728 in 2018.

There also seems to be agreement that the 10 fish per person limit is too high. And that the 12-inch minimum is too low. Equally agreed upon is that the number of big fish, over five pounds, is nothing like it was ten years ago, and that gigging has to be stopped or strictly curtailed. And as for unlimited commercial harvest: Utter embarrassment. Neighboring Alabama, which still hasn't figured out how to get gillnets out of state waters, at least has a commercial flounder limit: 40 per vessel. Our other neighbor, Georgia, restricts commercial landings to 15 per person—same as for rec anglers.

It also seems water quality and lack of seagrass and suitable habitat is a common theme associated with the decline of the flounder fishery. Jordan Todd said, “Until they solve the problem of Atlanta water usage our bay is going to starve for water.” Patton said, “When the seagrass disappeared, so did the fish.”

What's the Next Step?



Tell the FWC what you think. The FWC is prepared to hold public workshops on the flounder fishery around the state, once health authorities give the go-ahead. For now, it's easy to share your observations with the commission online at www.MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

I'll start the comment pool here:

“It's extremely rare to find a fish over five pounds today, commercial giggers used to be able to get 400-pounds a night, now they're lucky to get 200 pounds. I'd reduce the bag limit to five fish per person and I'd ban commercial fishing during the November-January spawn.” Capt. Jordan Todd, Port St. Joe, FL.


“I'm totally against gigging. No captain I know keeps a 12-inch fish. A 15-inch fish is as small as I'd go. I'd support a closed season as well. I'd also like to see a limit of no more than five fish per person.” Capt. David Borries, Jacksonville.

“I'd ban gigging. You can see the giggers at night, it's easy to see their lights. You see the gig holes on the fish at the market. I'd also cut the limit in half. No more than five fish is necessary.” Richard Patton, Sebastian

Your Call to Action is to be heard. Don't miss this once in a generation opportunity to weigh in on flounder regulations. FS

CALL TO ACTION



To tell the FWC how you think flounder should be managed, CLICK HERE

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine May 2020




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

How to Buy and Rig a River Fishing Kayak

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Power or Paddle? Bonafide PWR129

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

It's a Skiff, It's a Kayak: Bonafide SKF117

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Hobie Mirage Lynx to the Next Level

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Hobie Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight Packed with Features

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Extend Your Range in the Salt Marsh

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Florida's Capital Fishing

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 FULLY RIGGED Fishing Machine

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Mounting Forward-Facing Sonar on A Kayak: Mounts, Scanning Applications and More!

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

On The Water with Old Town: Bass Fishing at PRIVATE GEORGIA LAKE

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

DECKED-OUT Old Town Sportsman BigWater ePDL+ 132 Complete WALK-THROUGH

Kayak Fishing Fun Senior Editor Thomas Allen is joined by Old Town's Brand Evangelist Ryan Lilly to work some magic in b...
Videos

Dreambuild: Old Town ePDL Gets Rigged to the Hilt

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now

Never Miss a Thing.

Get the Newsletter

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

By signing up, I acknowledge that my email address is valid, and have read and accept the Terms of Use