Most people’s only reference for Flounder fish is its popularity with the most ardent connoisseurs of seafood.
If that’s not the case, the usual coloring books or cartoons could’ve introduced them to this specie. Presumably, many of us fall into this category. On the other hand, we have folks who’ve given it the status of a verb too.
Ever heard of that?
Yes, that’s right! And, the credit goes to the English language. For those who aren’t aware, this verb has to do with the way this fish moves about in the water. It’s used to describe the gait of a stumbling person.
When people head off to Florida, there’s one thing that’s always there on their checklists. And, that’s none other than having an adventurous ‘fishing expedition.’ Most, if not all, are catching fish for the first time.
So, it’s quite justifiable to find them excited the way they are. You’ll find their sequels of joy turning into screams the moment they get something hooked. Among them, there are people who make some priceless catches.
But, they can’t recognize the fish at all. The same goes for people like us who might have had first-hand encounters with the sneaky flounder fish.
Let’s just confess one thing. We’re familiar with the poached version we’re used to getting at restaurants. But, that reaches us after both of its eyes have been removed.
So if, like me, your knowledge of this flatfish is limited to how good it tastes. I suggest you come and join me as we discover more details about these reclusive buddies.
What Are Flounder Fish? Types of Flounders
Like any other living being out there, science has also classified this fish on the basis of Taxonomic Hierarchy.
Those who’ve had a taste for biological sciences must be aware of some fancy words like kingdom, phylum, class, order, family genus, and specie. So, that’s what we’re about to delve into this moment.
Since it’s a fish, it falls under the Animalia kingdom. Down the line, the phylum has been sorted out as Chordata, Actinopterygii as the class. And the order has been named Pleuronectiformes. In the case of the family it belongs to, there isn’t just one, but many.
All spiny flounders are a part of the Psettodidae family. Then based on the position of their eyes, some species fall into Bothidae (with left-eyed flounders) and Pleuronectidae (fitting in the right-eyed species).
There are some flounders that come with relatively larger teeth than the rest. They’ve been accommodated into the Paralichthyidae family. The rest of the fish, known as the Southern Flounders, are a part of the Achiropsettidae family.
The feature that distinguishes Flounder fish from other flatfish is the location of its eyes (both eyes on the same side of the head) and its bright color (red, orange, blue). Aside from that, it is a regular flatfish with fins circling around its roundish ball-like body.
It blends well with its surroundings which makes it a difficult prey but an excellent ambush predator. The coastal waters of the Northern and Pacific Oceans are places these demersal fish recognize as home
The Varieties Yet Discovered:
The Gulf Flounder
It is an olive-brown colored flatfish found mostly in the coral rubble of the North Atlantic around the Bahamas. It has a few white spots all over its body, three of which encircle the eye in the shape of a triangle.
The Southern Flounder
It is mostly olive-colored with darker spots in smaller fish which are absent in the large ones. It can be found in inshore channels with high salinity or in freshwater all across North Carolina and Mexico.
The Summer Flounder
Now, here is a flatfish with a mouth filled with teeth. It can be found on the west side of the Atlantic, mainly around Maine up to South Carolina. It is usually on the heavier side weighing up to 5 lbs.
The Winter Flounder
It is a reddish-brown oval-shaped fish with black spots on its body. As for its habitat, it’s found in the North-Western Atlantic in the cooler part of estuaries.
The European Flounder
This species is found in the Baltic Sea and the Black sea. It is diamond-shaped and pale brown in color.
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Flounder Fish Diet And Care
These flatfish are carnivores and nocturnal ambush predators. This means they are active at night and do not chase the prey but rather wait for it to approach, all the while embedded in the ocean silt. This makes them hard to spot.
Their diet ranges from crabs and shrimps to planktons and worms, depending upon their size. You should not Fish the Flounder in the wild waters during the summers as they lay eggs during this season.
If you want to keep freshwater Flounders as pets or to have a fish farm, you have to take care of the salinity and pH level (according to the species you are getting).
In general, they require a sandy or muddy bottom of the tank to flourish as they prefer to stay buried. You should make sure that there are no sharp objects from the silt to avoid injury to the fish.
Ideally, keep the pH level in the fish tank around 8.0 – 8.2 while making sure the temperature in the tank stays in the range of 72°- 86°F.
An effective filtration system and a 30% tank water change per week will help you keep the Flounder alive. For food, give them fresh worms and shrimps, although frozen worms are also a safe bet.
How And Where To Find Flounder Fish?
The flounder, for the most part, are found in the coastal waters and estuaries of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A large number of these flatfish of the Atlantic variety flourishes in and around Nova Scotia in Canada and Florida in the US.
However, if you want to increase your chances of finding them, you have to mind the seasons as they are migrating fish. During spring, it is better to look for them in the coastal bays.
For summer, look more in the estuaries and reefs. While in the fall season, your chances increase if you look in the nearshore coastal region. Do keep an eye on fishing reports all year long.
You can find the exact location of the Flounder by looking at the combined effect of various factors like current and muddy bottom rather than seeing them in isolation.
Other things to keep in mind are the location, tidal movements, and weather reports. These factors can maximize your chances of locating them.
You may also search by looking for Flounder at the bottom and also near the ledges, where passing fish are easily ambushed. You should also learn to read tracks that a passing flounder leaves in its wake. That’s because it is buried in the bottom silt, so any movement can be tracked.
As mentioned before, tidal movement can make a difference. Moving water will ensure that the prey lands on top of these hidden predators. However, they do not hide where the current is strongest but near places where there is a break in currents.
The temperature of the water is an important factor as well, as it affects the water currents. If the temperature of the waterfalls is below the 55-58 range, you can look in the rock piles. In places where it’s above 60 degrees, you have a better chance of finding them inshore.
The Threats About Flounder Fish You Should Know!
The biggest threat to the survival of Flounder is overfishing. This has reduced its number by more than 80% since the start of the 20th century. Other reasons for its depletion include habitat, change, and pollution.
The use of bottom trawls and dredging threatens the Flounder fish habitat; similarly, Coastal infills and sand mining also spoil their natural habitat. Water pollution due to untreated sewage disposal and dumping of Industrial wastewater has added to the damage.
Another natural threat to these flatfish comes in the form of parasites. They enter their bodies when they consume already sick invertebrates (due to protozoan contamination). So, they get weak after infection and die soon.
A more recent threat to their survival comes from rising water temperatures. And this is affecting Southern Flounder the most. As the earlier development of the fish takes place in warmer waters, a rise in temperature causes up to 90% of the eggs to hatch into males.
Like many other fish and reptiles, sex determination is controlled by the temperature of the water. Even a genetically female fish will grow up to function as a male when the water temperature is raised to just 4 degrees, and the sex ratio tips in favor of males by 96 to 4.
This is alarming as the climate change activists have been predicting the ocean temperature to rise by 4-5 degrees. More males not only cause breeding problems but also are a setback to the fishing industry, which mostly prefers females because of their relatively bigger size.
How To Catch Flounder? – Casting Techniques For Flounder
Catching Flounders is an engaging activity helped by the fact that they are found in great numbers in their usual habitat. They can be easily hooked by natural and artificial baits.
You can negotiate the challenges by following “floundering techniques,” which center around how, when, and where to catch the flatfish. Depending upon your situation, pick the best method from the following.
Catching Flounders around Structure
Mostly, Flounder the fish lies under rocks or pilings, as it offers protection from predators. You should use a heavy tackle here, like strong heavy-duty rods and a fishing line. Also, look for these flatfish where there is a break in the currents because they rest here to save energy.
Catching Flounder close to The boat
These sneaky creatures, instead of biting on to the bait immediately, sink down at the bottom of the boat. So, you should bring down the rod right under your boat side when you have one.
Catching Flounders on the Flats
You should search for potholes while fishing on the flats. Even if you are on the boat, do get out and trudge around the waters.
This can get you an idea of the slit compilation at the bottom and spot potholes that are flounder hideouts. It also helps you find out flounder tracks which are imprints of fish, before moving away. These are the likely places where they return.
Best Baits For Flounder Fishing
Flounders are not difficult to tempt onto the hook, provided you have the right bait. The important thing is to keep your bait low, closer to the bottom, and to move them slowly as this will alert the fish but not alarm them.
As for the selection of bait, you should choose the one which is right there. The Flounders’ preferred food is mostly found in close proximity to where they live. So, you should search for live bait right around the spot where you are fishing.
Its best is mullet, especially along the East Coast. You should use a shorter Carolina rig to keep these low to the ground. In case you are unable to find mullet, any small baitfish will also do.
Shrimp is yet another favorite for most of the larger species. An advantage of using prawns as bait is that they have a strong outer shell. And this does not let them get damaged when they have knocked around, especially when casting is done under jetties.
Best Flounder Rigs
How much Flounder you eventually catch depends upon the rig you are using. A rig comprises of fishing equipment which is an arrangement in a fishing line of bait, hooks, bobbers, dodgers, swivels, flashers, and leaders. The rigs are of five types.
Drift Fishing Rig
It is a flexible rig adjustable to be used in most flounder habitats. You can make it work on the bottom of the sea or even in shallow waters because it helps you fish in a moving boat.
Sliding Sinker Rig
This rig is an ideal choice for catching flounders hiding on the seafloor. Using live baits, it is so light that it does not alarm the target fish. Also, it seldom allows fish to escape.
It is mostly used to catch running water flounders. Known also by the name live lining, it connects the sinker, floater, and hook in a line, making it adjustable.
This is your ideal rig for a fun fishing trip, either on small motorboats or while walking along the shore. It is of an adjustable size, depending on whether you want to go deep fishing or not. And it does not disturb the fish.
Bottom Bouncing Fishing Rig
You should use this rig if you are trolling. You rest the anchor on the seabed and catch a large number of flounder, which get attracted through a bare hook.
Fun Facts About Flounder
The flounder fish has been around for around 50 million years. A fossil of a flatfish with an eye on top of its head has lately been found belonging to the time period.
They were discovered by a US Navy officer and a Swiss marine biologist in 1960 at the floor bed of Mariana Trench-the deepest portion of The Pacific Ocean.
During their life cycle, they undergo structural changes, which are very unusual. It involves repositioning of eyes as well as reshaping of the body. The Flounder appears like a normal fish when they are hatched, swimming in shallower water.
As they grow older, there is a rapid growth on one side of the skull resulting in the shifting of one eye and nostril to the other side. It also starts to flatten, grow heavy, and settle at the bottom of the ocean.
Flounder fish are adept at camouflage. They bury themselves in the ocean sand (their eyes being the only part of their body that is visible). When they are approached, they swim away faster, scattering silt that they were buried under in all directions.
This startles their predator. Then they swim away and settle at a new location, becoming invisible again. The excellent hiding ability helps them in catching prey as well.
The Founder is a unique-looking flatfish found in the North Atlantic as well as much of the Pacific Ocean. If you know its habitat and its peculiar behavior (of burying itself at the bottom of the ocean), you can pretty much catch a decent quantity.
That too while using the casting and rigging techniques mentioned in this article. You can also keep them as pets in aquariums or raise and breed a lot of them commercially, provided you take care of their diet.
Its mildly sweet taste and soft flakes have made it very popular with seafood lovers. However, the resultant overfishing and water pollutants have caused a marked decline in its numbers.
I hope that armed with the information provided in the article, you can discover the pleasure of not just eating the flounder at a restaurant but also the thrill and fun of locating and catching the flatfish in its elusive hideouts.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1 – What does the fish flounder taste like?
Flounder has been declared by nutritionists as a high-quality protein source because of amino acids and omega 3.
It is low in saturated fats and is a good source of vitamin B and minerals like Magnesium. That keeps the blood pressure and blood sugar in check and is known to reduce the risk of depression.
However, with Mercury as a known constituent, it is recommended that pregnant women and younger children avoid having it in large portions.
#2 – What does the fish flounder taste like?
It’s a mild-tasting fish, so a good choice for those who are trying fish for the first time. It has a slightly sweet taste, a bit like halibut, with a little less moisture and oiliness. Its delicate, flaky texture makes it ideal to be replaced with chicken in any recipe.
#3 – What is another name for flounder fish?
Dover sole, summer sole, and lemon sole are some of the names used for Flounder fish. Flukes are also called summer flounders, though not all flounders are Flukes.
Since they are flat and heavy and settle at the bottom of the ocean, they are also nicknamed ‘snow shoes’ or doormats.
#4 – What is better flounder or cod?
Cod contains about 17% more kcal/100g protein. It means Cod gives you more protein in a similar number of calories than when you consume Flounder.
Cod is even healthier because it contains a greater variety of minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium. Even the Vitamins that both fish contain are present in larger quantities in the Cod.
#5 – Does flounder taste like grouper?
It does taste a bit like grouper as both taste mildly sweet and is light with a bit less fishy taste.
Whereas grouper is a bit oily and hence chunky, flounder is delicate and easily crumbles into flakes. This makes it a more preferred choice for grilling and poaching.
#6 – Why is flounder so fishy?
Flounder has a very mild fishy taste, so if yours tastes fishy, it was either not handled properly (while being prepared for cooking). Or it must not have been fresh when bought.
The signs of freshness are a more vibrant color and springy texture, which quickly settles back when pressed, and most of all, an absence of a musty, yeasty odor.