Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus)

Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus)

Summer flounder, flatfish, fluke
Summer flounder

Also known as .. Flounder, Fluke, Flattie

Description …

Flounder have a rounded flat body, brown on one side (left side) and white on the other side (right).  Both eyes are on the left side of the body.  They have very sharp, well developed teeth that are cone like in shape on their upper and lower jaws.  They have five ocellated spots on the brown side, with three forming  a triangle just above the base of  the tail or caudal fin.  The mouth is always on the left side of the eyes.  

Summer flounder
Summer flounder

They have a distinct shape and are hard to confuse with other fish, except for many within their family such as southern flounder, winter flounder, and other types of flukes.  They can change the color and pattern of their dark or brown side to match the surrounding bottom.  They can easily burrow into muddy and sandy bottoms to wait for prey and hide from predators.   Their primary foods are crustaceans, small fish and minnows.  Flounder move into estuaries and bays every spring into the fall and then out to sea for the winter months.  They are an aggressive predatory fish.  Flounder are a very popular commercial and recreational fish, and are highly regulated by the coastal states to control over fishing. 

In Delaware you can find flounder in the surf, inland bays, inshore areas like B buoy and the Old Grounds, and the Delaware bay.  Popular methods for catching flounder include, jigging with soft plastics or gulp on bucktails or jig heads.  Some people use strips of squid or pork rind on bucktails.   Minnows on a flounder rig with wide gap hooks are usually drifted in boats and used on piers.  Live minnows like mummichugs, spot, or mullet are best or preferred, but flounder have been caught on chunk bait and mullet rigs in the surf.  They will also feed on crustaceans heavily in the surf, and they can be found just behind the first breaking wave feeding on sand fleas and minnows.  Jigging for them also works well in the surf zone. 

Summer flounder piebald
Summer flounder piebald

The wide gap hooks help reduce gut hooking the fish to ensure a safer release for undersized fish.   Some of these rigs have blades or teasers on them for added attraction.

Sometimes during larval development the flounder will have a mutation occur in coloring known as piebald. Failure for the eye to migrate over because of a skull bone obstruction often causes piebald, which are anomalous colored portions to the body, head or tail.  We see these  caught several times a year, there is nothing wrong with the fish, just the coloring.  It occurs during the larval development when the fish starts to turn to a flatfish from your typical fish shape.  Piebald is a natural mutation in nature and is not an indication of environmental conditions.

 

Delaware Creel limits

Summer flounder

All year

16.5 inches

4

 

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