Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Charters in Murrells Inlet with a doormat flounder. Photo Courtesy Fly Girl Charters
Changes to South Carolina’s recreational flounder regulations could be coming.
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Changes are afoot with a bill that has designs on changing limits for South Carolina’s population of flounder.
Bill H 3665 in its original form was set to increase the minimum size limit for flounder from the current 14 inches to 15 inches in Palmetto State waters.
But on Wednesday in the house’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, reductions to the daily bag limit were added to the bill. The current limits are 15 per person per day with a boat limit of 30 per day.
The bill now includes reducing the bag limits to 10 per person with a boat limit of 20 per boat per day, along with the one-inch increase in minimum size limit.
Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Georgetown, a member of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee and co-signer of the legislation, said feedback from anglers fueled the addition of bag limit reduction to the bill.
Hewitt has heard from flounder fishermen in the Little River area who are concerned with anglers from North Carolina fishing South Carolina waters to take advantage of the more lenient limits. North Carolina currently has a daily bag limit of six flounder per person and a minimum size limit of 15 inches.
“There is some concern up there (in the Little River area) with the catch limit being that much higher in South Carolina than North Carolina,” said Hewitt. “The concern is that we have people coming down (from North Carolina) to increase pressure on their fishery.”
The bill passed second reading in the House 108-0 this week, according to Hewitt, and has moved to the Senate.
“I feel like from the ones I’ve talked to it’s going to be well received in the Senate and it’s something (S.C.) DNR supports as well,” said Hewitt. “If you catch 20 flounder, that’s 80 pieces of fish for a fish fry. You could feed 30-40 people and its not like you can only catch that amount once a year, you could do it every day. Twenty fish (per boat) still gives anglers the opportunity to put a lot of fish in the freezer. If changing it helps sustain the fishery, then everybody wins.”
Capt. Jason Burton, owner/operator of Fly Girl Charters in Murrells Inlet, is in favor of the proposed changes, but is skeptical of the one-inch increase in size limit.
“The 15 inches is kind of a coin flip,” said Burton. “I don’t think its going to make much of a difference.”
Burton is more inclined to think a decrease in the bag limit will help boost the population.
“If they get that (bag) limit down it’s going to improve the fishery a lot,” said Burton. “I would like to see it go down more, even if they went to five or seven per person (per day).”