Learn about fluke

The summer flounder, or "fluke", is a flatfish noted for its fighting ability and flavor. Read on to learn more about the fluke and how to catch one.

Appearance

  • Fluke are a left-side flatfish with both eyes on the left side of the body. They have a large mouth that can extend beyond its eyes. Females live up to 20 years and weigh about 20 pounds, while males rarely pass 7 years or 5 pounds.
  • Fluke can change their dorsal coloration to camouflage with the ocean bottom. They can turn shades of gray, blue, green, orange, and even black. Dark spots, or ocelli,¬†mark the fluke's upper body. The blind-side is white, like most flatfish.
Summer flounder

Fluke facts

  • Species name: Paralichthys dentatus
  • Fluke are predominant in coastal waters from the Gulf of Maine to Florida. Fisheries for fluke occur from Cape Cod to North Carolina.
  • Fluke prefer feeding in daylight hours and are active predators. Adults snack on many species, including:
    • Winter flounder
    • Menhaden
    • Sand lance
    • Red hake
    • Silversides
    • Bluefish
    • Weakfish
    • Blue crabs
    • Squid
    • Sand shrimp
    • Mollusks
  • Males and females become sexually mature at 3 years of age. Fecundity increases with size and weight. Large females can produce around 4 million eggs in a season. Reproduction occurs in the fall, as soon as fish begin to migrate to wintering grounds. Spawning occurs from September through early November. Though most spawning happens off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, fluke may also spawn in Southern New England waters.
  • Fluke live in inshore areas of Massachusetts during the warmer periods of the year. Fluke prefer eelgrass beds and wharf pilings for protection. When threatened, they bury themselves in the sand or swim away at surprising speeds. In the summer, fishermen find small and medium-sized adults on the sandy and muddy bottoms of bays and harbors. Larger fish tend to stay in deeper water. With the approach of fall, summer flounder migrate to deeper more offshore waters.
  • Fluke have been among the most important commercial and recreational flatfishes on the East Coast. Review the commercial and recreational regulations before hitting the water.

Angling tips

  • Fluke are well known for battling when hooked. To catch a fluke, you can drift the bait along the ocean floor. The bail of the reel should be open, and the line held by a finger. Once a fluke tugs, let the line run for a moment to make sure the fish gets the bait in its mouth.
  • For bait, try using meat strips from tails of fish or the belly area. Popular fish bait include squid, sand lance, sea robins, and bluefish.
  • The meat of the fluke is popular for its flavor and texture. Popular ways to cook the white, flaky meat include steaming, baking, or frying.

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