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Winter Flounder

Winter Flounder

Scientific Name: Pseudopleuronectes americanus


Common Names: blackback, Georges Bank flounder, lemon sole, sole, flatfish, mud dab

 

Of the half dozen or so different types of flounders occurring in New Hampshire waters, the winter flounder (or blackback) is by far the flounder species most commonly caught by recreational anglers. The blackback is a rightsided flounder, which means the dark-colored side where the eyes are located occurs on the right side of the fish. It is distinguished from other right-sided flounder by its very small mouth, relatively flat lateral line and the presence of scales between the eyes. The color is highly variable and can change to mimic the bottom habitat. Winter flounder populations occur in most bays and estuaries, from Newfoundland down to Chesapeake Bay. In the Gulf of Maine, winter flounder begin moving into the bays and estuaries from offshore areas during late winter in preparation for spawning, which occurs in April or May in New Hampshire. After spawning, blackbacks in the Gulf of Maine remain in the bays, harbors and near shore areas throughout the summer before migrating to offshore waters in the fall. All females are sexually mature at a size of 14 inches (generally 2 or 3 years old). Tagging studies have shown that winter flounder generally return to the same estuaries to spawn year after year.


Catching Flounder: Fishing for flounder in New Hampshire begins in May and generally continues through September. Anglers can fish for flounder from jetties, piers and bridges, but those fishing from boats near the mouths of estuaries and harbors are more successful. Light to medium tackle rods are used, equipped with 1- or 2-ounce weights and long-shank flounder hooks attached to “spreaders.” In most instances, lures are ineffective in catching flounder; bait is best. Favorite baits for flounder include clam worms, blood worms and clams. Chumming is a common tactic for attracting flounder to the location you are fishing.