Description: The Gulf flounder has the familiar flat, rounded body and olive-brown color of other flounders that can change shade depending on the color of the bottom. It has three prominent, ocellated dark spots arranged in a triangle on its eyed side. One spot is above and one is below the lateral line while the third is in the middle of the line. The spots may become obscure in larger fish. There are also numerous white spots scattered over the body and fins.
Size: Gulf flounder are common up to 2 pounds. Citations are given for flounder weighing 5 pounds or more.
Sometimes confused with: summer flounder; southern flounder
Habitat: Gulf flounder are found nearshore on rocky reefs and inshore, ranging into tidal creeks, on sandy or muddy bottoms.
Eating habits: Gulf flounder feed on shrimp, blue crabs and fish.
Life cycle: Spawning occurs from October through February off the southeast Atlantic and Gulf coasts as water temperatures drop from about 73 degrees to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Both sexes reach sexual maturity around age 2. Juveniles migrate into estuarine nursery areas from January through April where the young fish find food and shelter.
Fishing tips: Flounder are caught by hook and line, using bottom rigs with live fish, such as finger mullet and artificial lures, by gigging or in nets. In recent years, a robust fishery for this species has developed on nearshore ocean wrecks, ledges and hard bottom areas.