Big Cut to Bluefish Bag Limit

Bag Limit Reduced to 3 for Overfished Bluefish

bluefish on plug

Last week, fishery managers approved new regulations for the 2020 recreational bluefish fishery. These measures, which include a 3-fish bag limit for private anglers and a 5-fish bag limit for for-hire fishermen, represent a substantial reduction compared to the federal 15-fish bag limit that has been in place since 2000.

The most recent assessment of the Atlantic bluefish stock concluded that the stock is overfished. In October, managers called for an 18% decrease compared to 2019 and considered several combinations of bag limits and minimum size limits. Although the Bluefish Monitoring Committee recommended a coastwide 3-fish bag limit, the majority of comments from the public and Bluefish Advisory Panel (AP) members expressed opposition to this option, noting that it would have severe economic consequences for the for-hire sector, which was only responsible for 3.6% of coastwide landings from 2016 to 2018. Additionally, AP members and the public emphasized that these proposed reductions come at a challenging time for for-hire stakeholders as they are also facing new restrictions on striped bass, black sea bass, summer flounder, and scup.

After an extensive discussion and thorough consideration of public comments, the Council recommended and Commission approved a 3-fish bag limit for private and shore modes and a 5-fish bag limit for the for-hire mode. No restrictions were made to minimum fish size or seasons.

“For many years, bluefish has been one of our most abundant recreational fisheries,” said Council Chairman and ASMFC Board member Mike Luisi. “The Council and Commission are fully committed to the effective conservation and management of this stock, but we also recognize that a sudden change in regulations could have severe socioeconomic consequences for some stakeholders. After evaluating a wide range of options and considering numerous comments from the public, we feel that this approach is the most fair and effective way to achieve the necessary reduction in harvest next year.”

78 on “Big Cut to Bluefish Bag Limit

  1. RK

    In Europe, pretty much every country has gone to a management model where there are a handful of giant factory ships with access to almost all of the fish harvested and recreational fishermen can catch next to nothing to take home.

    Fisheries managers seem to be going that way here now.

  2. Mike O’Mara

    Good luck getting this across to the shore snapper fishermen, and expecting them to comply.

    1. Bob

      I know I’m late to this string, but from a management point of view, it doesn’t make sense to put the same limit on snappers as adults. Snappers suffer way higher ‘natural’ mortality rates than adults, so there’s a high likelihood that the snappers that are caught would die anyway, from predation by larger fish. Let’s see what the regulators do, but if it were me, I’d raise the limit on snappers.

  3. Tommy Strzepek

    All the new restrictive limits on recreational fishing will
    decimate the for hire fishing boats.
    Not many folks will spend 80 or 90 dollars to go fish on a boat when the number of fish they can take is a few blues or a few flounder .
    I believe the fish stock is cyclical and the biggest culprit in this equation is the commercial fishery

    1. craig

      If you are paying 90 bucks for a head boat or 500+ for a charter boat to feed yourself, you shouldn’t go and go to the grocery store and buy normal food. These outings should be for the enjoyment of fishing and being on the water and for a few pics if you so desire and sure you can keep one or two fish.

      1. peter okeefe

        thank god we have you craig to tell the rest of us how to live…thats called communism…any idiot who believes these govt fish people who rely on problems to keep there jobs are in anyway honest is a fool. just look at the global warming hoax

      2. Max

        Craig, you have been drinking the Clinton kool-aid way to long. You are definitely not an avid saltwater fisherman. There are so many directions to go with your comments. I’ll keep it simple so you can understand me. Buying the fish at a store supports the massive commercial fishing fleet which in turn allows them to control our congressmen and women. If you ever saw how commercial fish are caught and stored you would never buy fish in a store again. Not to mention all the chemical additives, the country the fish came from, or the unsanitary conditions the fish are stored and transported in. The best tasting, most sanitary, and safest fish to eat are self-caught on a rod and reel by local fishermen. Local fishermen are supporting the local sport shops, the local fishing boats, and the local economies they are in. We keep business up and running and people employed. Not the government. If the government keeps cutting down on our limits of fish we will cut down on our fishing trips. Local fishing boats will go out of business; people will lose their jobs, local restaurants, hotels, and sport shops with close. All that these regulations do is save a few more fish for the large commercial fishing fleets to catch.

  4. JOHN

    Many years ago I remember seeing the giant foreign fishing ships cleaning out our water along NJ. Almost close enough to read the name of the ship from shore. Remember doormat flounder and the cod my dad used to get too. Its gone now,,we need to conserve or we’ll never see it again.
    Greed isnt the answer,,so the big money guys need to be inline too.

  5. GB

    Interesting that an 18% reduction is requested but we end up with an 80% one. Strange math at work here.

  6. Mark

    18% ? How the heck will that help. Why don’t they just admit there going to continue to let the bluefish be overfished. What a joke

  7. Bdez

    What a bunch of crap…. bass, tautog, cod…… All the same.. All calculating fish stocks through the roll of chicken bones.. However… keep sending the failed shrimp industry up North to drag for fluke tossing over 10000 pounds of dead bycatch bass stock, to spiral to the deep… Please stop putting your dumba$$ noaa sample boats to sea… they have no idea how to properly fish! Your samples are always off!!!

  8. T Ball

    You got it. They’ve been driving the small commercial fisherman out of business also. All the small fishing fleets in the N E have been pushed to keep their boats in larger fishing harbors because their own home towns don’t have enough boats to support a commercial fishing infrastructure. Keep voting all these psychos back into office. All they want is money and power. They don’t care about you

  9. Spencer

    This is total bullshit. most recreational fishermen I’ve met, don’t like bluefish and practice catch and release, for those that like bluefish, such as myself. Why should I have to face this. Those on ships are the main problems. I have to pay every year for a saltwater bullshit license. Every year this commission is screwing the recreational fishermen.

    1. Kaarl Waalewyn

      Fishing regulations should not be biased or slanted towards the commercial fishery of any species. When stocks are down, all people who fish are affected. If you choose to make a living from taking people out to fish, the same rules that apply to you & your clients should apply to the average guy/gal who fishes from a boat, from shore, or wherever they can afford to fish. There are more people who fit the latter description than fish from “for hire” vessels anyway. More importantly, this is America & we all have equal rights. Why should any for hire boat have more rights than everyone else? The answer is they shouldn’t. We are all equal, & fish regulations should be equal. Tire of all of this & will continue to make my own rules!!!

      1. peter okeefe

        if its America and all have equal “rights” why do we allow a few stupid men who call themselves govt to limit those “rights”? These “regulators” jobs depend on “finding” these so called problems that a few guys with fishing poles are responsible for?? are you nuts? outlaw foriegn commercial boats

  10. Joe

    Agreed! Could not be more disappointed in this approach. The blue fish stock has been decimated.

  11. Bob Tencza

    I have been waiting a long time for this new regulation. 3-5 fish limits is a great idea since a majority of excess bluefish that are caught end up as fertilizer for rose bushes. The only people that affected are the kids. Snapper fishing is a great way to introduce children as a hobby, much better than video games. Many they should have an age limit for children under 12 to be able to keep 10 fish under 12 inches and have a slot limit for all other anglers 3 bluefish between 22-36 inches. Those 12-22 inch fish will be next years stock. This way the kids can enjoy the sport in the future.

    1. benjamin marzolla

      How do you justify a kid keeping 10 fish? The enjoyable part of fishing is catching not necessarily killing what you catch. This i think teaches children the wrong message, everything in life is about moderation and also respecting your natural resources.

    2. peter okeefe

      maybe only tall kids with a specific shoe size?? more laws are not the answer

  12. Bob Pazdan

    I don’t know where they get there information from , but from what I have seen , for hire and party boats catch a hell of a lot of fish , and they do it every day , I’ve even seen them take Stripers outside the three mile line .
    The recreational guy gets out fishing maybe twice maybe three times a week , if he can get away and if the weather is good enough for him to go out in a smaller boat , he may have a friend or two or may not . In any case he catches a lot less fish than the party boats and spends a lot of money doing so .The party boat only has to put fuel in his boat which he does maybe once a week , depending on how far he has to travel every day . And his customers paying to go on his boat ( the rediculous fees they charge ) cover the cost and fatten his wallet .The recreational guy not only has to put gas in his boat , but also has to buy fishing rods and reels , lures and jigs , fishing line , weights and hooks and bait , which adds up to quite a bit of money , not to mention the cost of his boat and a place to store it summer and winter . So tell me how is that fair that he is only allowed 3 fish, which adds up to 9 fish if he is lucky enough to get out 3 times a week, and a party boat carrying 50 patrons 7 days a week can take 1750 fish . NOW YOU TELL ME WHO IS HURTING THE FISHING MORE , HUNDREDS OF SMALL BOATS WHO MAY OR MAY NOT GET OUT 3 TIMES A WEEK , OR HUNDREDS OF PARTY BOATS GETTING OUT EVERY DAY ! ITS NOT FAIR , THE LITTLE GUY GETS SCREWED AGAIN !

    1. peter okeefe

      how can any sane man believe that a few thousand guys with rods and reels can effect any fish in the god damned ocean?? brainwashing is the only answer

  13. Scott

    Is this a federal or state restriction. It almost seems pointless if it’s only state.

  14. Rick

    Why take this drastic measure first? Regulate specific open and closed seasons first and put a minimum size limit on bluefish before you cut the bag limit by such a drastic measure. Did they take the fish morbidity rate into account from severely injured fish returned to the water that won’t survive?

  15. Jeff silvia

    Comarant numbers are way up and they have really been doing a number on the snapper blues aka skipjacks as well as other species.please someone figure out how to minimize there numbers

  16. Reed Riemer

    This does not make any sense. the commercial fishing community has been given the blue fish allotment that has not been used by recreational fishermen for years. no mention of changes to the commercial regulations.

    1. ron

      that’s what I’ve been saying for a long time they are doing the same thing with the herring fishery by giving the comms.extra by catch limits

  17. Robert Lewandowski

    It’s a good start. For so many years fishermen just slaughtered the bluefish. Most anglers didn’t even like to eat them, but kept their catch anyway. Great fighting fish. Let’s give them a break. Hopefully the stock will increase to the numbers where South Jersey can have the slammers again.

  18. Dan

    I didn’t realize the bluefish fishery was in such commercial demand. That explains why we don’t see them anymore like we used to 20 years ago.

  19. Roccus

    Solution: Time to sell or dispose of all your saltwater gear and put up your VS reels in shadow boxes for posterity.. Now go out and purchase some new golf clubs and learn a new game to play… That is until Officials come up with new restrictions on disturbing sod or grass and killing earth worms…!!! GOOD LUCK…..

  20. Jeff Swayze

    This management decision lacks the backbone necessary to actually conserve and rebuild the bluefish stock. For hire fisherman and private, shore bound recreational anglers should have the same bag limit of three fish.

    1. Tony durso

      I dont mind the new regs as long as the commercials get a reduction also. The point is moot if they can decimate the stock

  21. George Klitsch

    You’d be better off addressing the destruction of Bunker and Mackerel masses by the commercial guys that ply our coastal waters. They literally can catch them all. If you want healthy fish stocks, follow the bait to determine the the numbers of predator fish and stop punishing the recreational angler who contribute so heavily to the Wallop Breux Tax.

  22. b marks

    as usual a bad overreaction yes 18%redudction 15 fish minus 18%. equal 12 fish not 3 less bait stores less marine fuel soon no fisherman and happy guys in suits


    Time to sell all of our saltwater fishing gear. The head boats will take a big hit since the fares are already high and the limits are killing them..The last two years had been really bad along the north Jersey coast for Blues anyway..stripers are almost non existent too..end of surf fishing…time to talk up another sport???? I don’t think so, we will not give in to their bullshit!!! KEEP ON FISHING!!!!

    1. Jimmer

      This is all well and good having restrictions but you need people to enforce them, I fished all year many places seeing poachers first handed called authorities many times only to have them not show and enforce the rules they made

  24. Ryan

    I’m against this-
    When I was a young man fishing the surf one summer evening- a bluefish bit of my glans-
    Let’s extinct the dang things!

    1. Paul

      One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish . Who’s coming up with these regulations? Dr Seuss ?

  25. Paul

    Did you ever fly a kite in bed? Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?
    A book is just like life anything can change.
    Some are sad.
    Only three bluefish? That is bad.

  26. Thomas Oppelt

    I can understand both sides of this argument. For years we’d go out and catch more fish than we could handle. Never to throw away, but gave it to those that “could use the fish for food. Not to waste. I caught one fish last year, didn’t even have one on the line this year. Maybe time. It seemed to help the stripers when they were in trouble.

  27. Larry

    Snappers are best fluke bait – only way to catch a 20” fluke these days. Is that still legal?

  28. Ryan

    Bluefish are an odd thing
    Great big yellow eye and all
    Not great to eat unless youre super ice man on the spot
    Me, id rather drink the pearl

  29. john c

    3 snappers…really. asmfc is smoking crack. Guess I gotta take up sailing

  30. Tony durso

    This whole reduction is moot if the commercials dont get a reduction

  31. b marks

    if we contact our congressman by e mail it would be more effective then we realize. go online more important and effective then this forum. will our kids and grandkids be able to enjoy the wonder and joy of fishing??

  32. MeatStick

    This is wrong you have a little fishing boat go out maybe once a month spend your money on all the supplies,boat reg,gas,ins for boat,taxes. Drive 65 miles to the ocean for a Day to Injoy with the family only one Striper if you are lucky to catch on now only 3 Blues ? Really and a charter boat can go out three times a day maybe 4 times a day 6 people fishing on the boat or you can go on another one with 25-50 idiots no license needed states losses tax money from that and you want to stick it to the little guys Somethings wrong with this picture. How about if you live 25 miles from the ocean the little guy can use the same rules as the charter boats maybe two fish if you catch two come on. It’s cheaper to sell your boat and go on a party boat. Look not everyone keep there catch my point is what’s good for one should be good for the other we all need to play by the same Rules .

  33. MarineBob

    I do a lot of summertime shore fishing on the Cape. Not to be a world class fisherman but for the idea of enjoying the time at the beach. What I see is moron parents allowing kids to torture crabs, NESMF’s (Non English speaking…….. figure out the rest) catching anything and everything they can, any size and tossing dozens into a bucket. who the hell eats 5-6 inch scup? I suppose a bunch of people taking too many small scup is not going to change the world but the attitude is if I catch it, its mine.

  34. john

    The real issue for the majority of depleted resources in the world is people. When are we going to put a limit on human reproduction. Please read “The Tragedy of the Commons” published in 1968 by Garrett Hardin if you think I’m kidding.

  35. Steven Schnebly

    Really? All you learned experts debating if the new regs. are too tough? Maybe your’e right. Look what tough regs. did to the whalers. Killed them. And remember the American Sportsman Show of the sixties. Rhino hunting. Tiger hunting. Real men. Bring that back too. Lets finish the job. What the F is wrong with you idiots. Wake up, and look around. WE ARE WIPING OUT THE FISH IN THE OCEAN!
    There should be a moratorium on both bass and blues. Catch and release only. Barbless single hooks on lures. No bait. Cut way back on the commercial catch. Oh, that’s right. Too late. We already paid the politicians.
    Just say goodbye to surfishing. Say goodbye to Striped Bass, and Bluefish. Take a bow.

    1. Pete

      The Atlantic herrings were a joke the past two years due to the drag betters in Cape Cod.

    2. Jeff smith

      I think you are closer to the truth than many of the folks making comments here. We need a moratorium on many of our favorite species if we are to leave something for the future. I haven’t caught a stripper in several years, same goes for big blues. I do think the commercial fishing for bunker and other forage fish lies at the heart of the problem.

  36. b marks

    next green new deal shut off the lights and move into a cave the sky is falling boo hoo how about some COMMON SENSE

  37. Jim Babbitt

    My wife always asks me why I don’t ever keep any fish. I tell her when they start tasting like steak I might keep some. Problem is by then there might not be any. I think an awful lot of fish are wasted and it’s time for everyone to wake up. If a fish dies before I can release it I feel terrible watching it get stiff and turn colors ……but that’s just me. Lets all practice conservation so that our grand kids can continue to feel a rod bend.

  38. casco bay angler

    I think this is a good rule. We haven’t seen any blues up my way for several years despite abundant pogies. . . It may take several years to work but I think this is a step in the right direction. I think 5 fish/person on a charter boat is fine. Like others have stated you aren’t going on a charter boat to feed your family. . .

  39. Rick D

    2015,16,17,18, Three hour ride round trip,$15.00 gas $3. 00 tools food drink $12.00 $60-75.00 head boat average a trip a week. 10 -20 people, boat moves 8 -12 times pulls back in to dock with 10 assorted fish for whole boat. get discount tic. for next trip. 2019 wow this is what fishing is supposed to be like.better shut it down. house goes on market in 3 weeks. Escape N.J. while you can. 40 % of trips boat came in with zero keepers. Go home to super market and pay 12 dollar for short flounder filets that I had to throw back.

  40. Dejuan Washington

    How come now- I ain’t see no bluefish here in Lexington no mo?
    Mr Trump- where are you on the bluefish issue?
    Make America fishy fingers again!

  41. TJ Doyle

    A bluefish in a limousine?
    Oh oh! I know! I know!
    Under the sea the bluefish call us blue people!
    They fish for us with balloons and circle hooks baited with big fat greasy burgers.
    My chubby chin chin us a turkey gobbler- it’s double

  42. Ray

    So there is no decrease to the metric tonnage and by catch to the Commercial fleets but only recreational fishermen trying to put food in their own freezers . How much kickback profit do the fisheries management employees make from lobbyists ?

  43. Joe Nathan Goroski

    I thought ol’ Trump was going to drain the swamp of lobbyists.
    Looks like he has developed into a real politician-
    A liar who can’t fulfill their promises except to benefit the rich and powerful.
    Poor bluefish (and bass) are toast.

    1. Tim Riley

      has it really come to this ? were even gonna try and blame Trump for fish regulations what next you can keep to republican bluefish but only one of the democratic bluefish ? lol lets stay on point here

  44. Thomas Smith

    43 million Pounds of blue fish caught recreationally the last two years according to Mrep? I think not! Bogus numbers from random phone call interviews

  45. Franklin Rudolph

    If the regulators wanted an 18% reduction in bluefish catch why did they reduce the bag limit from 15 fish per day to 3 per day? That works out to an 80% reduction in the number blues you can legally keep Are snapper fisherman going to abide by this new regulation?-I think not

  46. Bruce Gordon

    Trump doesn’t control every aspect of gov’t. Stop with your idiocy. Blame the regulators that take care of the commercials & screw the small guy.

  47. Louis J Desantis

    That’s where the biggest problem lives in the fall down by any dock the snappers chase spearing in shallow water I see 30 40 snappers a few inches being kept they never get the chance to grow up. Real shame

  48. Tim Riley

    I like the new regulations I see too many people keeping 15 just cause they can. I’ve seen a couple with a child keep 45 just because they can . let the numbers and the sizes of the blues get back to what they used to be then when you get a bent rod you’ll have a fight on your hand and it be a much more enjoyable experience and a great fish story to tell your friends… happy fishing !!!!!!!!!

    1. Michael Kall

      I happen to like the new regulations nobody needs to keep a fist full of fish and as far as the 500+ charters going out 2 times a day Need I say more..I’ve watch the striped bass and the bluefish almost come to a halt in the last few years. I’m sorry for going out and catching 30 Skooly’s ?or 20 cocktails ? And why worry about the individuals that are out there keeping snappers by the bagful doesn’t make much of a difference. Anybody with any sense can’t figure out why the population has dropped.
      Just want to keep those beaches alive…
      Michael Kall

  49. Eric Smith

    They want to keep people off the water and they are well on their way at accomplishing this task.
    How many people will subscribe to a magazine when there are no fish to keep? They can’t manage the Weakfish -13″- get real. They need to put a size limit on Blues where you can only keep one over 25″. If they keep listening to NOAA -No Anglers Allowed. You won’ be allowed to keep anything. Recreational fishermen & women don’t even put a dent in the stock . This B. S. is a result of commercial fishing. There are around 40,000 supermarkets in the US. There are not enough fish in the oceans to supply these stores, restaurants, fish markets. The government could care less as long as they get their revenue. Recreational fishing is on it’s way out.

  50. Michael Power

    I am so totally late to this blog but better late than never!!
    I am agree to most of the comments published. I particularly agree with the international commercial fishing RAPING and DECIMATING the world’s oceans. – mostly done by Chinese and North Koreans fishing boats. – The world’s nations should IMMEDIATELY STOP THESE fleets from these uncontrolled and illegal fishing activities going on day in and day out 365 days a year.!!!

  51. Maria Giebel

    No menhaden =, no bluefish, weakfish , striped bass, tuna, fluke …..if you are eating fish on the east coast, you are eating menhaden! Reduce the menhaden quotas to reduction fishery… better yet….. close the fishery. This fishery in Virginia with fleet of seiners and air force of spotter planes is destroying the food web from Nova Scotia to Jacksonville , Florida.

    1. Bright side charters

      Myself and MANY others in new england support the new regs on bluefish- The current bag limit is perfectly exceptable in order to bring back blue fish stocks to northern new england -there is not a more impressive spin casting fish (except BFT) to get on top water than bluefish !!! You all know that i hope!! both commercial and noncommercial fisherman have destroyed the specie for years so get off your selfish ass and deal with it!!

  52. Bright side charters

    Myself and MANY others in new england support the new regs on bluefish- The current bag limit is perfectly exceptable in order to bring back blue fish stocks to northern new england -there is not a more impressive spin casting fish (except BFT) to get on top water than bluefish !!! You all know that i hope!! both commercial and noncommercial fisherman have destroyed the specie for years so get off your selfish ass and deal with it!!

  53. Joe Schmo

    I don’t fish much… just crab… I was very surprised by the limit change… Commercial fishing destroys the populations of fish for profit and the regular fishermen have to suffer… what can you make with 3 snappers lol

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