North Carolina’s 2022 recreational flounder season will open at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 1 and close at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 30.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries says 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 an adaptive management framework with accountability measures to implement paybacks if the allowable catch is exceeded. Overages from the 2022 recreational season could impact the 2023 recreational season.
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.
For more information, see the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Southern Flounder Amendment 3 Information Page.
Anglers encouraged to donate flounder carcasses to science
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will collect flounder carcasses of legal size (15 inches or greater) from recreational fishermen during the upcoming recreational flounder season.
he division has set up eight temporary freezer locations, in addition to the ten carcass collection locations available throughout the year, where recreational fishermen can take their flounder carcasses.
The temporary locations are:
- Oden’s Dock: 57878 North Carolina Hwy 12, Hatteras;
- Bridge Tender Marina: 1418 Airlie Rd, Wilmington;
- NC Division of Marine Fisheries: 943 Washington Square Mall Highway 17, Washington;
- Sea Gate Marina: 729 Sea Gate Dr, Newport;
- Chasin’ Tails Outdoors: 709 Atlantic Beach Causeway, Atlantic Beach;
- Ocean Isle Marina: 2000 Sommersett Rd SW, Ocean Isle Beach;
- Seapath Yacht Club: 330 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach; and
- Dudley’s Marina: 106 Cedar Point Blvd #8000, Cedar Point.
The year-round locations are (map available here):
- Cape Pointe Marina, Harkers Island;
- Frisco Rod & Gun, Frisco;
- Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head;
- Pogies Fishing & Kayaking Center, Swansboro;
- Pelagic Hunter Fishing Center, Sneads Ferry;
- Sea View Crab Company, Wilmington;
- Tex’s Tackle, Wilmington;
- NC Division of Marine Fisheries Headquarters, Morehead City;
- NC Division of Marine Fisheries, Wilmington; and
- Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point- Environmental Affairs Office (available only to those with military base access).
Anglers that donate legal carcasses and provide a completed carcass collection catch card will be eligible for either an Angler Recognition Certificate (one per season for fish 15 inches to less than 24 inches total length) or a N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament Citation (one per fish for fish 24 inches or greater total length).
When cleaning the fish, anglers should leave the head and tail intact and, if possible, leave the guts in the fish. Anglers who fished on a charter boat or head boat should let the fish cleaner know the carcass will be donated.
Instructions on how to deposit the carcasses are posted on each freezer. Anglers will be asked to give information related to how and when the fish was caught and must provide their names and addresses if they wish to receive a certificate or citation.
Division biologists will measure the fish, determine the sex, if possible, and remove the otoliths (ear bones) to determine the age of the fish. The information collected will be used in future flounder stock assessments.