Four Floun­der

Sport Fishing - - THE TUNE TRIBE -

The top of a floun­der — the dark, pig­mented side that has two eyes (which are sep­a­rately mov­able) is ac­tu­ally the fish’s left or right side, de­pend­ing on the species. When ly­ing hid­den just un­der sed­i­ment — with only its peep­ers pro­trud­ing — floun­der am­bush un­sus­pect­ing prey with the speed and fe­roc­ity of a coiled co­bra. Four sub­species of floun­der can be en­coun­tered near the U.S. At­lantic and Gulf shore­lines, with some over­lap­ping:

GULF FLOUN­DER

(Par­alichthys al­bigutta) range from North Carolina to Texas. This is a left-eyed floun­der, mean­ing both eyes are al­ways on the left side. Males typ­i­cally reach no more than 14 inches; af­ter their first year of life, they re­main off­shore. Fe­males can grow to 18 inches. IGFA all-tackle record: 7 pounds, 2 ounces, from Bogue Sound, North Carolina, in 2011.

SUM­MER FLOUN­DER

(Par­alichthys den­ta­tus), of­ten re­ferred to as fluke, are a left­eyed species, abun­dant from Mas­sachusetts to North Carolina. They can reach 26 pounds and live as long as 20 years. IGFA all-tackle record: 22 pounds, 7 ounces, from Mon­tauk, New York, in 1975.

SOUTH­ERN FLOUN­DER

(Par­alichthys lethostigma) range from North Carolina to Texas and south into Mex­i­can waters (mi­nus much of South Flor­ida). Also a left-eyed species, fe­males reach 28 inches in length and males up to 14 inches. As with Gulf floun­der, males head off­shore af­ter a year. IGFA all-tackle record: 20 pounds, 9 ounces, from Nas­sau Sound, Flor­ida, in 1983.

WIN­TER FLOUN­DER

(Pleu­ronectes amer­i­canus) range from Maine to Ge­or­gia. Of­ten nick­named black­backs or lemon sole, these right-eyed floun­ders sel­dom ex­ceed 23 inches and 6 pounds. IGFA all-tackle record: 7 pounds, from Fire Is­land, New York, in 1986.

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