number of different species of flatfish or flounder are found
in coastal and ocean waters along the entire Atlantic coast of
the U.S. Three of the most common flounder species in the
Northeast are the Winter or Blackback flounder, the Summer
flounder or Fluke, and the Yellowtail flounder. Flounder is a
lean white fish with firm, delicate flesh. All flounder
species have a similar body shape, and both have eyes on one
side of the head which allows the fish to rest on the ocean
bottom and look upward. The side of the fish that has the eyes
is generally pigmented with color variations from species to
species and at different times of the year. The eyeless side
of the fish is generally lighter to white in color. Flounder
are caught by both commercial and recreational fisherman
throughout much of the year, but some species are caught more
frequently at certain times of the year.
Winter or blackback flounder
primarily live in shallow coastal waters during the colder
"winter" months of the year. During the summer, they
migrate out of shallow water to deeper and cooler ocean
waters, and they move back to shallow coastal waters when the
water's temperature begins to drop again. Winter flounder are
most abundant during the colder months of the year, and during
their seasonal migration in the spring to cooler ocean waters
and again in the fall as they move back to coastal waters.
Large winter flounder are commonly referred to as "lemon
sole" in many markets. The terms "sole" and
"flounder" are often confused, and are really two
biological classifications of flatfish. There are no true sole
commercially caught off the Northeast coast.
Summer flounder or fluke
have a migratory pattern opposite that of winter flounder.
Fluke migrate offshore to ocean waters 200 to 500 feet deep
during the colder winter months. During the warmer summer
months they move inshore to shallow warmer waters. Fluke are
commonly a favorite target for summer recreational fishermen
who in recent years have caught more fluke than commercial
fishermen. Fluke is most available in commercial markets
during the summer and during its seasonal migrations. Fluke is
one of the larger flounder species, and it is commonly used
for sushi. "Because of the size and high quality of fluke
caught here on Long Island, we have established a respectable
business for sushi, both here in New York and in Japan,"
explained Bill Milligan, owner of Milligan Seafood Company in
Southampton. "Much of the fluke larger than 4 pounds is
used for sushi."
Other flounder species
commonly found in New York markets but less frequently caught
by recreational fishermen include the Yellowtail flounder and
Sea dabs or American plaice. These flounder species are
similar to the winter and summer flounder and can be easily
substituted in most flounder recipes.
Flounder have historically
been a staple of seafood lovers in New York for generations.
They have a delicate flavor and a fine texture that most
people enjoy. Flounder is very versatile in the kitchen and
can be prepared by steaming, poaching, baking, broiling,
frying or cooking in the microwave oven. Broiled flounder is
light and healthy and no big fuss. Flounder recipes can be as
diverse as simple fried flounder, or as elegant as a meal fit
for royalty. Because of its mild taste and delicate texture
most flounder recipes do not contain strong ingredients that
would mask the fish's natural subtle flavor.
Time of year:
Fluke usually arrive in June and are running strong through
August. Best months are June and august
swivels, fishfinders, fluke hooks, lead weights
How to :
Drifting a combo of a squid strip and a live killie is a good
method but its not the most productive. Using a 3 way swivel ,
tie the 3 way to the line coming off your pole. On the
remaining 2 swivel loops clip a sinker directly to one loop
and a 4 to 5 foot leader with a hook to the other. Use the
lightest sinker that will allow you to hold bottom. Let your
sinker hit the bottom and continue to bounce as you drift.
Make sure your sinkers is on the bottom or you won't catch
fish. Set the hook immediately when you feel a bite .
Best Places: Any moving body of
water, inlets, bays and the ocean being the best
When party boat fishing you usually drift so try and stay in
the bow or stern so you can easily shift to the side where the
lines are drifting.
Use an English style hook and often times fish will hook
Keep your rig on the bottom or you won't catch fish.
Try to fish while tide is moving. You'll cover more area and
your bait will look more natural since it's moving.
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