SOUTHERN FLOUNDER (Paralichthys lethostigma)
: has a laterally compressed body (fish lies on its side rather than on the abdomen) and always looks up. The flounder is capable of changing its color pattern to match the bottom color, ranging from blackish-brown to light- gray or a mottled coloring. The down side is white.
RANGE: Occurs statewide, except in extreme South Florida and Keys. The Southern is the common Flounder of virtually the entire Florida Atlantic Coast.
HABITAT: Most of the year, this fish is found in relatively shallow areas, preferring soft bottom near such cover as bars or rubble. Also holes in grass beds and edges of channels.
DESCRIPTION: Brown or olive background, liberally marked with both dark blotches and white spots; however, the prominent eye-like spots (ocelli) of the Gulf Flounder are missing.
SIZE: This is the larger of Florida’s two widely caught Flounders. It averages 2-4 pounds, but fish running 8-12 pounds are caught each yearÐmostly in the fall around major inlets from the Georgia line to Sebastian. World and Florida records 20 pounds, 9 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: One of the best.
GAME QUALITIES: Large fish get off some fair runs, but the outcome is seldom in doubt.
TACKLE AND BAITS: For most Flounder fishing, ordinary light spinning or baitcasting tackle is more than adequate. When targeting doormats around the inlets with live bait, the same types of gear, but with stouter rods and perhaps stronger lines should be used. Light saltwater boat tackle also does the job. Big Flounder are taken mostly with live fish as bait. Finger Mullet are favorites everywhere. Smaller fish and big ones at times will also hit live or dead shrimp and cut baits. While most fish-imitating lures will take Flounder, jigs are the most productive.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing.