The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries announced Wednesday that the 2023 recreational flounder season will open at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 15 and close at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 29.
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 tail).
Harvest of flounder with a Recreational Commercial Gear License will be prohibited.
The season and possession limits are set annually to keep the fishery within the recreational quota approved by the Marine Fisheries Commission in the N.C. Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3. The plan also specifies any overage to the recreational Total Allowable Catch (TAC) requires a pound for pound payback subtracted from the following year’s allowable harvest. In 2022, the recreational TAC of 170,655 pounds was exceeded by 56,340 pounds.
For 2023, this means the TAC for the recreational season will be 114,315 pounds.
Discard mortality is accounted for in the estimates of TAC. During 2022, dead discards both during and outside of the southern flounder recreational season contributed significantly to the total removals from this fishery and the overage in the TAC. 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. During the open season, the Division also discourages anglers from high-grading (retaining a fish until a larger one is caught) as this increases post-release mortality leading to additional dead discards.