Catch and Release in Marine Recreational Fisheries

The Influence of Hook Type, Hook Wound Location, and Other Variables Associated with Post Catch-and-Release Mortality in the U.S. Summer Flounder Recreational Fishery

M. H. Malchoff, J. Gearhart, J. Lucy, and P. J. Sullivan


Major recreational and commercial fisheries in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States are dependent upon summer flounder or fluke Paralichthys dentatus, currently managed under the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan (MAFMC 1995). The number of flounder caught by recreational anglers and subsequently released alive has grown from less than 6 million fish in 1990 to over 16 million fish in 2000, and now regularly exceeds 60% of the total recreational catch (National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics and Economics Division, personal communication). Only limited data, however, exist on post release mortality rates in the fishery and the most important factors which contribute to this mortality (Lucy and Holton 1998).

In 1997, a field study on flounder release mortality was begun in New York (NY), with similar work planned in 1998 for Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC) where researchers coordinated data collection during that year. From July 1997 to December 1998, using conventional angling gear, researchers and volunteer anglers conducted 17 fishing trials catching 623 summer flounder (200–650 mm total length).