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What is a Southern Flounder?

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  • Written By: S. Reynolds
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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A southern flounder is a type of fish that swims in Atlantic Ocean waters off the coast of the United States from North Carolina to Florida. It is a large fish, with big eyes and a mouth full of teeth. It belongs in the flounder family Achiropsettidae. The scientific name for the southern flounder is Paralichthys lethostigma, which means "parallel fish with forgotten spots."

Southern flounders generally are dark brown with tiny spots and blotches. They grows up to 30 inches (76.2 cm) in length, although the average size is 10 to 30 inches (25.4 to 76.2 cm). Their weight does not exceed 10 pounds (4.54 kg).

This fish prefers the brown, muddy waters of estuaries, although it also is found in bays and channels. Anglers have also been known to catch this fish around piers and jetties. It camouflages itself in the brown mud and uses quick, darting movements to catch its prey, usually small fish and shrimp.

The southern flounder spawns its young in the Gulf of Mexico. They are about two years old when they first give birth. When the fish hatch, they immediately start swimming. As they grow older, their eyes start to shift to the left sides of their heads, and they begin to swim with their left side facing up.

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Fishers who have small, light tackle can catch flounders easily. These fish tend to like shrimp, plastic worms or actual worms as bait. If the waters have many plants, fishers have better luck with shallow-running spoons as bait. Live bait is often more effective than dead bait.

A flounder fisher mounts a lantern on the front of his or her boat and covers much ground while fishing. Catching a southern flounder using a skiff is much more effective than water wading. The fish tend to move around a lot and get into areas that are muddy and hard for fishers to reach by foot.

The best time to catch a southern flounder is between the months of October to December, when they are migrating. Calm nights are the best time to catch these fish, because the water is clearer. Low tides are also better than high tides for catching these fish.

The southern flounder is prepared by removing the gills and innards and immediately placing it on ice for preservation. The fish can be eaten with lemon juice or butter and seasonings. It can be baked or fried according to preference.

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