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     In the spring, Winter Flounder are the most popular fish.  The most distinguishing attribute is their small mouth does not extend backward to below the eye.

     Presented here is general information of Winter Flounder, its reproduction, habitat, food, fishing season, angling tips, handling and cooking.
  • General information:
    Winter flounder's name derives from its tendency to move during the winter months to shallower inshore waters.  It ranges from southern Labrador to the waters of South Carolina and Georgia and is most abundant from the gulf of St. Lawrence to the Chesapeake Bay.  It is frequently called "blackback" when it is smaller than 3 pounds and a "lemon sole" when it is larger.  Like all flat fish, the winter flounder has both eyes on one side of the head.  A newly hatched flat fish larva has one eye in each side of its head but within months it adapts to a bottom dwelling lifestyle, by which time one eye has moved to the other side of the head.  Unlike most other bottom dwelling fish that rest by lying on their bellies, a flat fish rests on its side.  Having both eyes on one side of its head enables the flat fish to rest on the ocean's floor while directing both eyes upward.  The winter flounder is referred to as a right handed flounder because the eyes are located on its upper surface when the fish is pointing to the right.  A 12" winter flounder is about 2 to 3 years old, a 20" winter flounder is about 9 to 10 years old.  Female winter flounder grow faster than males and attain larger maximum sizes to about 8 pounds with a length of 25 inches and may live up to 15 years.

  • Reproduction:
    Both male and female winter flounder normally reach sexual maturity at 3 years of age.  The fecundity (number of eggs produced each year) increases with body size, with smaller females producing about 500,000 and larger females around 1,500,00 eggs per year.  In New England, reproduction occurs in estuaries from January to May with peak activity during February and March when the water temperatures are the coldest of the year, ranging from 32 to 39 degrees F.  Evidence suggests that specific individuals return for many years to the same site to spawn.  Unlike the floating eggs of all other local flatfish, eggs of the winter flounder clump together in masses on the bottom.  Eggs, usually laid on clean sand, hatch 15 to 18 days after being released.

  • Habitat:
    Winter flounder are one of the most stationary of fishes, displaying a very limited seasonal migration.  Fish stay overwinter in inshore areas.  As summer approaches, the shallow inland waters become warm, and the larger fish move offshore to deeper waters.  Although a given population usually remains fairly stationary, there is evidence of wide scale movement of some individuals perhaps in search of food.

  • Food:
    Larval and juvenile winter flounder feed on the egg, larval and adult stages of various invertebrates.  Adults feed on a great variety of organisms including shrimp, clams, polychaete worms, fish fry and bits of seaweed.  Winter flounder feed mainly during daylight hours and are more active during flooding or ebbing tides than during slack water periods.

  • Fishing Season:
    May-February

  • Angling Tips:
    Anglers pursue this species from docks, jetties, party and private boats.  Areas with sandy mud and patches of eelgrass providers anglers with the greatest opportunity for success.

    Winter flounder provide the most enjoyable action when caught on light tackle.  Most anglers use 10 to 15 pound test monofilament line on a 6 1/2 foot medium action spinning rod or a small boat rod.  Flounder hooks attached with snells or leaders can be fastened to the end of a wire spreader with a sinker attached to its center, or tied directly to the line 12 to 18 inches below a sinker.  An alternative rig can be easily assembled.  Pass the end of the line through a fish finder then attach a black swivel to it.  Use a red snelled flounder hook with a yellow bead, attaching the loop end to the swivel.  Attach a 2 to 4 ounce sinker to the fish finder.

    Seaworms are considered the best bait for winter flounder.  The key is to use very little bait; an inch of worm will work best.  Winter flounder can quickly and quietly sneak in and take baits; thus, unattended rods lose fish.  The rod should be raised often to check for fish as well as to attract them.

  • Handling:
    Winter flounder should be iced immediately after capture.  If they are iced in a large cooler the melt water should be drained occasionally so the fish do not soak in warming water.  If they are iced in a boat fish box, remove the fish box's drain plug.

  • Cooking:
    No fish lends itself to more imaginative dishes as does the winter flounder.  Its texture and delicate flavor are well suited to sauces, spices, fruits, vegetables and other seafoods.  Few species can be mixed with so many things and still stand out.  Winter flounder can be fried, steamed, baked, microwaved, or broiled and can be substituted for other species in most fish recipes.
     The links to the left provide current marine and local weather reports, extended local weather reports, tide charts and the U. S. Coast Guard Navigation Center, featuring GPS information, DGPS sites (which are a must for anyone with a differential GPS), LORAN-C information, Local Notice to Mariners plus a boat load of miscellaneous navigational links and my Site Map.  Although most of the links to the left provide local information, my out of state visitors can also find nationwide marine and weather information.

     The remaining links to the right have my Boating, Fishing, Knot Tying, Fish Fileting and Tackle Tips pages.   Following those are my Search Engine pages, one with short descriptions and another in a table form, plus my Research Page.  Last but not least, is my Doll House Gallery featuring the Farmhouse and The Garfield!  These keep me busy in the winter.

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     As you visit my pages you will notice I love animation.  Feel free to copy any of the animations.

     Please don't hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble locating marine, boating, fishing, tackle information or have any questions!

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