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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Summer Flounder

Marine Fisheries

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summer flounder

Summer Flounder

Paralichthys dentatus

AKA: fluke, flounder

Description: A flat, disc-shaped fish that is white on the right side and brown, gray or olive on the left side. The colored side has three distinct ocellated dark brown spots near the tail that form a triangle pointing to the head. There are usually other spots on the side nearer to the head.

Size: Summer flounder grow to 32 inches, but catches typically range from 10 to 16 inches. Citations are given for flounder weighing 5 pounds or more.

Sometimes confused with: Southern flounder, gulf flounder.

Habitat: Summer flounder are found from Massachusetts to Florida, but are most abundant from Delaware to Cape Lookout, N.C. They inhabit high-salinity coastal and estuarine waters in the spring and summer but move offshore in the winter. They often camouflage themselves under a thin layer of sand.

Eating habits: Summer flounder are active predators that swim vigorously to chase their prey. They feed on shrimp, crabs and other fish.

Life cycle: Summer flounder spawn at sea in the fall and winter. Currents and winds carry the larvae to coastal and estuarine nursery areas where they live for the first 18 to 20 months of their lives. Afterward, they move into the ocean where they mature and join migratory adult fish. The maximum age is 15.

Fishing tips: Anglers catch summer flounder with standard bottom rigs or specialized flounder rigs using cut bait, shrimp or live minnows. Anglers have also had luck with small bucktail lures and jigs. Summer flounder can be caught by surf fishing, drifting in inlets, trolling or fishing from piers. New ocean flounder fisheries have developed on nearshore wrecks and hard-bottom areas.
 

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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