Both flukes and flounders are bottom-dwelling flatfish found in the Atlantic Ocean that lies low on the bed of the ocean and can blend with their environment. Both flounder and fluke are prized for taste and are very available on the entire Atlantic coast and back-bay waters but are extremely similar in appearance. What’s the difference between fluke and flounder?
have eyes on the right side
smaller in size
darker- reddish/olive green color
smaller mouth & flatter teeth
Fluke (Summer Flounder)
have eyes on the left side of their body
much lighter/brown color
have three-ringed, eye-like spots on their back & tail
bigger mouth & sharper teeth
Winter flounder and Summer flounder (fluke) have a few distinct differences, but most anglers and fish lovers agree both fish make for great eating. Both are easier to catch and they are a blast for people like you and me, who love fishing as an activity or just getting out onto the saltwater for the day.
Fluke vs Flounder
Flounder fish belong to a group of fish, specifically flatfish, that encompass different species and families, though they all belong to the order Pleuronectiformes.
These fish live on the bottom of the ocean, where they lie and wait for dinner on their wide, flat bodies, and have both eyes on one side of their heads either the left or right, depending on the species Summer flounder has eyes on the left and Winter flounder on the right.
Flounder’s eyes start out like any normal fish with one eye on each side of its head but as it matures its eyes will migrate to one side or the other moving towards the top of its head. The summer flounder species is one of the most popular recreational fish on the Atlantic coast.
Depending on their size, females have between 460,000 and more than 4 million eggs. They release the eggs into the water column and the eggs hatch in the waters of the continental shelf.
Flounders are medium-sized fish, that can weigh from 5 up to 30 pounds, from pinkish to snow-white in color. Found all over the world and there are around 540 species.
Flounder fish are found in Northern waters and is caught all along the Northern East Atlantic Coast of the United States from Florida to Nova Scotia. Some species have spots or rings on their back and can be distinguished because at least five of these dark spots are arranged in an “X” pattern.
Winter Flounder Fishing
- Anglers fish for Winter flounder from the shore, piers, and boats with hook-and-line gear.
- The recreational harvest limits for each state are based on the recreational catch in 1998.
- Regulations for the recreational fishery are typically adjusted annually. They include an annual harvest limit, closed seasons, a minimum size for landed fish, and possession limits.
Their bodies are flat with both eyes on one side. They spend their lives on the ocean’s floor camouflaging themselves against the sand or rock bottom. Flounders can even change the color of their skin to better disguise themselves on the ocean floor. They are a beloved and popular food fish. Flounder has a very mild flavor and flaky white flesh and is known for its great taste.
Baitfish make up the majority of a flounder’s diet. If you’re fishing in the right area and the right type of water, without seeing at least some schools of baitfish swimming around. Finger mullet bloodworms, and other small baitfish like croaker, mud minnows, or menhaden. These baits are normally readily available and widely consumed by flounders.
Winter flounder are different from the other flounder species with eyes on the right side of their body and living in colder waters further north. This flounder also grows slightly larger averaging between three and eight pounds. The winter flounder can be found as far south as North Carolina but their typical range is from Deleware Bay to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada.
Fluke Fish(Southern Flounder)
Fluke(Summer Flounder) The scientific name for fluke fish is Paralichthys dentatus. They’re mostly more often called by their well-known name Summer flounder but on the United States East Coast they’re most commonly referred to as ‘fluke.’
This order is commonly grouped together into what’s called ‘flatfishes, which are large-tooth flounders and contains approximately 110 species.
Fluke is generally bigger and toothier than the Winter Flounder, but Fluke is Flounder. Fluke is another name for Summer Flounder, a large, predatory species of Flatfish that lives in the North Atlantic. The reason people get confused is that Winter Flounder also live in the same place. Luckily, there are some ways to tell these guys apart.
Like other flatfish species of fish, they have flat bodies and remain near the ideal floor, and have colorings that match the sea bottom.
The Fluke fish species can also adjust their color to better match their surroundings and blend into their environment. Fluke fish also have spots on their back that can an important feature that can help distinguish the species.
During colder months fluke fish will move offshore to depths of up to 600 feet. During the spring and summer, fluke fish move into feeding grounds closer to shore that are also shared by smaller fish. As Fluke gets older they will commonly migrate and move into northerly shallower feeding grounds.
Fluke is generally bigger and toothier than Winter Flounder, Fluke is Flounder. Fluke is another name for Summer Flounder, a large, predatory species of Flatfish that lives in the North Atlantic. The reason people get confused is that Winter Flounder also live in the same place. Luckily, there are some easy ways to tell the two apart.
Summer flounders have three-ringed, eye-like spots on their body. Near their tail, and several more on their back. The spots on their body are arranged in an “X” pattern.
- Larval and post-larval flounder feed on zooplankton and small crustaceans.
- Juveniles eat crustaceans and fish.
- Adults are opportunistic feeders, eating whatever food is convenient at the time, and feed mostly on fish and crustaceans.
Fish scales act like armor protecting fish from scrapes on rocks & branches protecting the fish from injury, & shielding fish from predators. Scales provide defense against parasites. They make fish more aerodynamic & help them move through the water faster up, down, or sideways without changing speed ……………………………………………………………… Read more
Difference Between Summer Flounder and Winter Flounder
Summer flounders or (Fluke) prefer to spawn in deeper waters at sea in the fall and winter. They have eyes on the left side of the head. Summer flounder grow fast in their relatively short life of about 12 to 14 years. Males of the species can grow to be more than 2 feet in length, while females get up to 3 feet.
These flounders migrate in the summer or spring, leaving the deep ocean waters to move inshore along beaches, inlets, bays, estuaries, canals, and creeks. They normally grow to a maximum weight of about 15 pounds, although larger fish have occasionally been reported.
The average size of Summer flounder, when caught, is between 2 to 5 pounds. Summer flounders have bigger mouths and sharp teeth that are pronounced.
Winter flounders can grow to be more than 2 feet in length at the ages of 15 to 18 years that they live but their average weight is similar to summer flounders. Winter flounders enjoy colder water and will enter shallow bays and coves in winter and spring to spawn and live until the seasonal sun warms the water above their preferred temperature.
Winter flounder are different from the other flounder species with eyes on the right side of their body and living in colder waters further north. This flounder also grows slightly larger averaging between three and eight pounds.
The Winter flounder can be found as far south as North Carolina but their typical range is from Deleware Bay to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada.
This species of flounder spawns during the winter and fall season in shallow, inshore waters and bays. This flounder has a smaller mouth and flatter teeth than its Summer cousin. They are normally darker with a reddish-brown and olive-green hue that can match their surrounding environment.
Flounder Fishing Size limit (New Jersey)
New Jersey Fluke (Summer Flounder) 2022
Regulations for the recreational fishery are typically adjusted annually. They include an annual harvest limit, closed seasons, a minimum size for landed fish, and possession limits. Recreational landings varied widely over the years until harvest limits were put in place in 1993.
Summer Flounder in New Jersey was just adjusted as it is every now and again and will be getting a longer season in 2022. Fluke fishing will be open on May 2 and close on September 27. The longer season will provide more opportunities for backwater fluke fishermen, particularly in the southern part of the state.
The limits themselves are somewhat more complicated. By 2022, fishermen will be allowed to take two flukes between 17 and 17.99 inches, and one fluke over 18 inches. This is different from 2021’s regulations when fishermen were allowed to keep 3 flukes over 18 inches.
This was one of five of the regulations proposed, four of which were aimed at an increase in the fluke harvest between 15.9% and 16.5% over last year. With the longer season and the ability to keep two fish in a smaller size slot, it’s estimated that the new regulations will provide a 16.5% increase in fluke harvest. from On The Water April 2022
New Jersey’s Winter Flounder season runs from:
- March 1 through December 31
- with a two-fish bag limit and
- 12-inch minimum size
Check your States Regulation for Fishing before you go out!
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References: NOAA Fisheries Summer Flounder-Fluke
AZ Animal- Winter Flounder/Summer Flounder