Broad Flounder fish identification, Habitats, Fishing methods, fish characteristics
The Broad flounder (Paralichthys squamilentus) are members of the left-eyed flounder family Paralichthyidae (Sand flounders), are widely distributed Gulfwide, in Atlantic coast of USA, Western Atlantic from North Carolina to Florida and the entire Gulf of Mexico, with adults being common on offshore bottoms in 300-700 feet of water. Juveniles are often found shallower, but never in bays or estuaries.
This is a large flounder, rivaling in size the southern flounder. It is occasionally caught by offshore anglers, leaving them surprised and perplexed as to why they would catch a flounder in such deep waters. Unlike other flounders, this species will often have a dusky color or pigmented blotches on the eyeless right side. The left side has both eyes and is very dark brown, occasionally brownish-black, with small black spots. It is much broader than the
Southern Flounder with the body width being half or more of the length. Southern Flounders are much more slender. Their body width is less than half their length.
Broad flounder, like all lefteye flounders, is very compressed laterally. Body depth 48 to 59% of length (more than any other species family Paralichthys). Head length 27 to 35% of length. Eye diameter 25 to 30% of head length in species length up to 40 mm and 18 to 20% in species length 100 mm. Upper jaw has length from 42 to 50% of head length, extending posteriorly to a vertical through posterior edge of pupil on species smaller than 50mm. in length and to about posterior edge of eye on larger species.
Eyed side shades of brown, with or without diffuse, non-ocellated spots and blotches. Upper jaw extends slightly beyond posterior edge of lower eye. Lateral line arched over pectoral fin. Body is deep, about 44% of total length.
The eyes are on the left side.
76 to 85 Dorsal fin rays.
59 to 65 Anal Fin Rays.
11 to 13 Pectoral Fin Rays on eyed side.
Gill Rakers 3 to 5 (usually 3 or 4) + 9 to 12 (usually 10 to 12).
104 to 117 Scales in lateral line (more than in any other species family Paralichthys).
Vertebrae 10 + 27 to 29.
Common at 3-8 pounds, but does grow larger.
Eye side is brown with nonocellated spots, body tending to darken with increasing size. Broad area along dorsal and ventral edge of eye side of body characteristically sprinkled with melanophores, middle of body virtually devoid of small melanophores. Blind side is dusky.
Broad flounder occurs in bays, lagoons and shallow coastal waters. Large species occur in deep water, but young fish inshore in shallow water, migrating into deeper water with increasing size (from 7 to 230 meters). During the warmer months young broad flounder occur inshore. The adults of this species occur deeper than
Gulf flounder or
Southern Flounder, at depths of 100-220 meters. Adult broad flounder rarely venture into water shallower than 100 meters with juveniles being taken in 18 or more meters. On occasion juveniles may be found in estuaries, but only rarely.
They feed primarily on amphipods, mysids and other small crustaceans at smaller sizes; at larger sizes feeds primarily on fish.
Females mature by age 2 to 3 at sizes as small as 15 cm; size at 50% maturity is 35 to 38 cm total length. Males attains maturity at 30 to 35 cm total length. Spawning occurs in bays, lagoons and shallow coastal waters at depths of 18 to 60m during late autumn and winter. Large species occur in deep water, but young fish inshore in shallow water, migrating into deeper water with increasing size. (from 7 to 230 meters). Larvae and young migrate inshore during January and February with February being the month of maximum immigration (water temperatures about 16C). Females grow faster and attain larger sizes than do males.
It is occasionally caught by offshore anglers, leaving them surprised and perplexed as to why they would catch a flounder in such deep waters. Very good meat; it is even leaner than the
Southern Flounder, so much so that some people find the flesh on the dry side.