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Winter Flounder

Psuedopleuronectes americanus

"aka: blackback, lemon sole, rough flounder and Georges Bank Flounder "


Description: The Winter flounder is a flat fish with both eyes on one side of the head. When resting on the bottom and facing right the eyes are on the upper surface. The body is oval and about 2 1/4 times as long to the base of the caudal fin as it is wide. It has a thick-body with a broad caudal peduncle and tail than most small flatfish. The mouth is small with thick fleshy lips. The blind side of each jaw has one set of incisor-like close teeth. The side of the flounder with the eyes will have only a couple of teeth if any at all. The anal fin is highest midway after a short, sharp spine. The pelvic fins are the same on both sides of the body is separated by a large gap from long anal fin. Gill rakers are short and cone-shaped. The lateral line is almost straight except for a slight bow above the pectoral fin. The side of the flounder with eyes has rough scales while the bottom side is smooth. It is slightly rougher in the older males and on an occasional adult female. The color varies according to location ranging from almost black, olive green, slate color and slightly reddish brown. Some are muted and plainer than others that are mottled with large spots of the same shade. The blind side is white often displaying a bluish tinge. The bottom of the caudal peduncle is sometimes yellowish. The dorsal and anal fins are usually pinkish, red or yellow on the sighted side. Smaller fish are often less colorful. Color and pattern related changes vary according to location and environment.

Similar Fish: Summer flounder

Where Found: The Winter flounder ranges from Southern Labrador to South Carolina and Georgia. Winter flounder have a very limited seasonal migration. They remain in shallow areas over the winter and as summer approaches and the waters begin to warm up the larger fish move offshore to deeper waters.

Size: The 2-3 year old flounder will be about 12" long. The 9-10 year-old flounder is approximately 20" long. Females grow faster than males and reach 25 inches in length and weigh eight pounds. Winter flounder live a maximum of 15 years.

Size Record: 7 lbs. 3.5 oz. Atlantic Ocean by angler Jack Cohen 6/29/1997

Bait used: The most popular bait for winter flounder are small bits of seaworms. Also try strips of clam, mussel and shrimp.

Tactics to catch: These fish are fun to catch on light tackle. Try using a medium action spinning rod with a 10-15 lb. test line. fasten snells or leaders with flounder hooks at the end of a wire spreader with a sinker attached 12 to 18 inches below. Pay attention or the flounder will sneak away with the bait.

Climate (water temperature range): The winter founder prefer water temperatures ranging from 17 to 22 degrees C.

Spawning habits: Both sexes reach maturity at three years of age. As the body size of the female increases the number of eggs increases and at sexual maturity will produce 2,5000,000 eggs annually. Reproduction occurs during the coldest months of the year in temperatures ranging from 32 to 39 degrees F. Individuals return to the same site to spawn for many years. The eggs clump together in masses on the clean sandy bottom and hatch 15 to 18 days after being released.

Table food? Flounder is so very good to eat and can be cooked in a variety of ways. Its texture and delicate flavor are excellent with sauces, spices, fruits, vegetables and other seafoods. This fish can be cooked in so many ways, for example: fried, steamed, baked, microwaved, or broiled and can be substituted in most other fish recipes.

Consumption Concerns: Consumption advisories due to PCBs. Limit to one meal per month for women ages 18-75 based on body weight of 144 lbs. and a meal size of 6 ounces before cooking. This mercury advice is to protect women of childbearing ages and to err on the side of safety for older women.

Feeding habits: The larval and juvenile flounder feed on the various stages of different invertebrates. The adult flounder will feed during the daylight hours on shrimp, clams, fish fry, bits of seaweed and polychaete worms. They are very active during the flooding and ebbing tides

Remarks: The winter flounder is so named due to the fact that it moves in the winter to shallow inshore waters.


NOAA gov.


Oceans Alive

Ultimate Fishing Site

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