The winter flounder (Psuedopleuronectis americanus) is one of the most sought after gamefish in the coastal waters along the northeast shores. Its fans are legion and it is fortunate that the tasty little critter is so prolific, because the number of flounder taken on rod and reel by recreational fishermen, as well as by commercial methods, is literally astronomical.
The flounder is one of the best tasting flat fish and this accounts in part for his popularity. His abundance also makes him relatively easy to catch, yet skill and knowledge in bait presentation, tides and currents, bottom formations and chumming techniques are important to successful flounder fishing.
The flounder is a right handed flatfish. That means it lies on the bottom on its left side, the eyes and mouth pointing to the right, the abdomen the lower right edge of the body and tail. Conversely, its cousin the summer flounder also known as the fluke is a left handed flat fish.
The mouth is small, but the lips are thick which is an ideal adaptation for sucking small animals out of the mud, the primary feeding method of the flounder. Unlike the summer flounder, the winter flounder has no teeth and for many beginning fishermen this is the surest way to identify the fish.
The overall shape of the body is wide and somewhat rounded in shape like all typical flatfish. The top of the fish is dark in color, but the depth of the color and the shade will vary depending on the type of bottom in which the fish resides. It is likely to to be a very dark brown and will appear almost black.
The flounder starts out life similar in appearance to most bony fishes, but late in the larval stage, the left eye begins to migrate and the internal organs rearrange themselves. The body flattens, until in the adult stage the flounder has both eyes on the same side of the body. This shape is ideally suited to it low station in life, spent mostly buried in the mud. The flounder can swim quickly, mostly in spurts, but not for long distances.