We are in the season of trade shows and thank God we have them since they give us the opportunity to get out of the house during these dreary winter months to see and buy fishing gear for the upcoming season. These shows give the JCAA an opportunity to pass out our newsletters and to talk to attendees about fishing issues and JCAA's involvement in them. The most recent show the JCAA attended was the Atlantic City Boat Show during March 2nd to the 5th. This was a well-attended show and I saw a number of people in the process of buying boats. I worked at it on March 4th with JCAA's Dan Miller who is one outstanding salesman, and he knows how to sell our High Roller raffle tickets! While he was doing his sales pitch, money was coming in so fast that I felt like some bank clerk just arranging bills and handing change to him!
When I did get a chance to talk to people, the question I continually heard was, "What's going on with fluke"? I explained to them that we had enough of these terrible regulations coming at us with a 19-inch fluke and that our state is NOT going to accept this travesty that will put a lot of party/charter boats, tackle shops and related businesses out of business for no good reason. The people I talked to were glad to hear that the JCAA and other fishing organizations stood up together to fight the 19-inch fluke and I did not hear one person say that this was a wrong move or a mistake!
Every year we always seem to have some drama on what will be our fluke regulations for the upcoming season. I and others have been involved in this drama over the years and I still remember one year that fishery managers wanted to close down fishing for fluke for one summer month during the height of the fishing season to "save" this fishery! Of course, this is the window when party/charter boats/tackle shops make most of their business. This shows how little regard fishing managers have about people who make their living in this business.
So, I am glad that our state DEP Commissioner, Bob Martin, said "enough is enough" at a January 27th rally in the parking lot at Fisherman's Supply in Point Pleasant and that our state is behind us in fighting this 19-inch fluke. Thank You, Commissioner! About 300 anglers attended this rally. In addition to our state DEP coming out to support us, many of our legislators are also supporting us on this issue. Most recently, Congressman Pallone introduced H.R. 1411 (and co-signed by Rep. LoBiondo) in the House Committee of Natural Resources that would delay implementation of the 19-inch fluke regulations until a new assessment of fluke stocks is completed since the data to support it is so faulty. This is the first time I can recall that our state and its legislators have come out swinging for us on a fishing issue and we are all grateful for their support! Where this all goes is uncertain at this time, but as of now the fluke regulations we had in effect for 2016 will apply to our 2017 season - 5 fluke at 18 inches and 125 days (start & end of season to be determined).
Finally, I want to thank all of the volunteers who worked at this AC Boat show on behalf of the JCAA and they include: Dave Spendiff (who worked at it for 2 days), Ron Nachmann, Bill Figley, Rich Pasko, Walter Maier, Bruce Halstater, Kyren Dooley, Tom Siciliano, Paul Haertel, Ken Warchel and his son Michael, and Mark Taylor who set up and took down our JCAA booth at this show and organized the volunteers for it.