Flatfish are among the most popular saltwater fish of the Atlantic Coast. This group includes halibut, flounders, plaice, gray sole, and others.
Flatfish begin life as free swimming fish. During growth, the “bottom” eye migrates to the upward-facing side of the body, allowing young fish to lie on one side.
The American plaice was once one of the most abundant flatfish in the Northwest Atlantic. Although stocks have declined from historical levels, fisheries still exist in the Canadian Maritimes and other areas of the North Atlantic.
The winter flounder or blackback is an important fish throughout New England. This small, mild-tasting flounder is sought after as table fare.
The gray sole or witch flounder is grayish-brown on the eyed side and off-white on the underside. This righteye flatfish is caught in moderately deep waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and New England.
Gray sole reach a maximum length around 25 inches, weighing up to 5 pounds. Typical individuals are 12 – 20 inches in length.
The meat is pure white, lean, flaky, and mild flavored. Gray sole is marketed as fresh whole fish, or fresh or frozen fillets.
Yellowtail flounder reach maximum sizes of roughly 22 inches total length and 2.2 pounds in weight. They are popular in seafood markets for their mild meat.
Yellowtail flounder are found along the Atlantic coast of North America from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador, and Newfoundland to the Chesapeake Bay.
The summer flounder or fluke is an important species in the Northeast and along Mid Atlantic Coast. Summer flounder are prized for their size and mild flavor.