Flounder legislation passes House, heads to Senate for further consideration

Below is a press release from CCA South Carolina. If you haven't been following, or been in attendance at the SCDNR presentations, Flounder have been in a 10 year decline, per statistical sampling using trammel nets. In response, NC has closed their flounder fishery last year and is in discussions about this year. SC has been slowly reducing creel limits, but this will only affect gigging, as taking a limit of flounder by hook and line is almost unheard of. In my experience and in informal polls of other experienced fishermen, the average catch is 1 or 2 legal flounder per trip. So, going from a creel limit of 10 to 5 will have no effect among hook and line anglers. All flounder of legal size are female (did you know that?) and the best and simplest way to protect the brood stock is to add an upper slot. Please contact your state Representative and Senator and tell them you are in support of H.3957, in particular the upper slot. We need to make a change that will ensure healthy stocks in the future, and the side benefit is a lot of doormat flounder to catch (and release).


3021-10 McNaughton Dr., Columbia, SC 29223

Website: www.ccasouthcarolina.com Email: Swhitaker@ccasouthcarolina.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2021 CONTACT: Scott Whitaker 803-865-4164

Flounder legislation passes House, heads to Senate for further consideration

Columbia, S.C. – With a vote of 106 to 3, the South Carolina House of Representatives has advanced legislation that would adjust the state’s flounder regulations with an emphasis on increasing the spawning stock of the popular species. H. 3957 was introduced in late February by a bi-partisan group of legislators based on concerns from anglers, constituents, and data from the first ever regional stock assessment indicating that the fishery continues its downward spiral. The legislation comes after 18 months of meetings and discussion among fisheries managers, the angling community, and state decisions makers.

“We are thrilled by the level of engagement that has been shown and the willingness to act by both bodies of the General Assembly” said CCA SC Government Affairs Committee Chairman, Tombo Milliken. “Recreational anglers in SC have consistently asked for conservation measures to be taken over the years and yet we find ourselves at a place that further action simply must be taken, and we have willing partners throughout the state management process eager to respond.”

South Carolina is not alone in the need to take action to address declining flounder numbers. From Texas to North Carolina, states are enacting new management steps as a response to troubling stock assessments. A first of its kind regional stock assessment provided in 2019 suggested that southern flounder harvest be reduced by 72 percent across the South Atlantic region (North Carolina to Florida), with North Carolina implementing a 45-day season for recreational anglers. Florida also acted in December to reduce its harvest.

The legislation passed in the South Carolina House of Representatives would implement a 5-fish-per-person creel limit with a maximum 10 fish boat limit. It would also implement a 16”-20” slot limit on the size of flounder, with anglers being able to retain 1 fish over that slot limit per person and a maximum of 2 per boat. While utilized in the management of other species, red drum and black drum for example in South Carolina and spotted seat trout in states such as Texas, Alabama, and Florida, the SC flounder slot limit would be the first time it has been implemented in the country for flounder management. The principle behind the measure in all the cases is the same; to bolster the larger spawning stock of females.

The legislation now resides in the Senate and has been referred to the Fish, Game, and Forestry Committee, where CCA SC anticipates additional management measures will be considered and with the same enthusiasm by members to act.

“Looking back on the process, the level of engagement from state fisheries managers at the SCDNR to frame the issue, elected officials in both bodies of the House and Senate to work on bi-partisan legislation, and from the recreational community to engage the process, has been remarkable” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA SC. “We’ll see where the developments take us in the coming weeks.”


1966 13' Boston Whaler "Flatty"
2018 Sportsman Masters 207
www.eyestrikefishing.com #predatorsstriketheeye

I've been gigging once ever (thanks 23), it was fun, and IMO its easy to measure the length accurately by lining up your 4" gig. The fish are just sitting there. I'm not anti-gigging, I'm pro-sustainability.


Originally posted by Optiker

I'm pretty sure I have a great picture of you somewhere....man, that's been some years ago.

"Another poon dream splintered on the rocks of reality." --Peepod 07-25-2017
Being serious here. I'm all for conservation, even more so as I age. I have no issue with the 5 fish creel. A good idea with all the new pressure from so many more people on the water and the added pollution from so much more run off from the many new houses and businesses on our coast.

Since many of us just learned all flounder over 10-12" are female. ( Again thanks for that information) Why can't we drop size limits and target some males? No doubt a big slab to get a few fillets off would be nice, but for people that are actually targeting Flounder if they get a limit of 5 ten inchers instead of a limit of 5 15inch plus flounder, would we not be increasing the breeding fish by saving females? As I've stated Many out here love the smaller scaled and cooked whole flounder. I may be looking at it all wrong?

As far as putting up an overslot limit. I've tried following this legislation, but I don't see what size would be "overslot".
Certainly support reducing limits and the slot. Like others posting, had no idea that legal fish were all female. Thanks for the work on this issue.

Please add a voice to those who believe that these thoughtful limits and size restriction changes probably will not change the flounder fishery's trajectory until something is done about the shrimp boats.

I drive through the shrimp boats often heading out of and back into St. Helena sound to go offshore, sometimes there are four or five at a time. Say whatever the industry wants about fish excluding devices, etc. but the hundreds of birds perched on or flying around each boat aren't there for the scenery. Same is true for the Tax Man. It would be great if all recreational fishermen could drive close to a shrimp boat sometime and watch an unload to see the massive extent of the waste and destruction for a little bit of shrimp.

I don't think you would find that shrimp boat are the big culprit many believe they are. I think after a few more years of data science will show that most all our inshore decline is due to Man's development and destruction of the marshes. Pollution.

So what will be the upper slot limit? I'm sure I don't think like many catch and release guys, but really, why not a lower size limit along with that upper slot if we are taking all Females and No males?

The mention of birds? I help a friend from time to time as he needs it on a shrimp boat. The Birds are after Shrimp mostly from my experience. Not the fish, although they do get them too. You can look in this pic and see what Jelly Balls do for shrimping at times. I think if you look real close you may see 5 fish and I'd imagine most all the Jellies lived after being dumped back in. Hog chockers are probably your biggest by-catch and not worth anything to recreational fishermen. I'm not saying shrimp boats don't get some flounder from time to time, but I don't think they do what many think they do. Mostly Knee jerk. We really don't have a big shrimp fleet anymore.

Last edited by Fred67
I agree with Fed about by catch on shrimp boats. I sometimes help out on a rather large shrimp boat. A days work for a bucket of shrimp is a good deal when he is short handed. We keep a "crew bucket" on the deck for what are called "eating fish" from the by catch. Sometimes we get a flounder but not very often. The fish I love from this bucket is the occasional triple tail!