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Flathead sole fish identification, Habitats, Fishing methods, fish characteristics

The Flathead sole, is a demersal fish that lives on soft, mixed mud and sand bottoms at depths of up to 3,440 ft (1,050 m). Its native habitat is the northern Pacific, from the seas of Japan and Okhotsk, across the Bering Sea and to the coast of North America, as far south as Point Reyes, USA. In the northern part of its range it overlaps with the related and morphologically very similar Bering Flounder (Hippoglossoides robustus) whose range extends north to the Chukchi Sea and into the western Bering Sea. The species is quite big in size: It could reach 23 in (58 cm) in length, and can weigh up to 4 lb (1.8 kg); females are typically larger than males. Lifespan is at least 27 years for females and at least 30 years for males.
Flathead-Sole The flathead sole, Hippoglossoides elassodon, is a flatfish of the family Pleuronectidae, also known as cigarette paper, paper sole, Balai du Japon in French, Umagarei in Japanese, Плоскоголовая камбала or камбала Охотоморска in Russian. Its native in the North Pacific: Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, and the Bering Sea along the western coast of America to Point Reyes, central California. It is distributed northward along the west coast of North America and throughout Alaska.

The flathead sole is a right-eyed flounder with an oval-shaped or rather elongate, compressed body. Snout as long as or shorter than eye; anterior margins of eyes about level. A big mouth, the upper jaw passing through the mid-eye is nearly vertical.
Maxillary extending to below middle of eye or beyond; lower jaw a little projecting; outline of upper jaw evenly curved. The upper jaw is narrow in the middle and has one row of teeth. There are 14-15 to 18-19 Gill rakers on lower part of anterior arch. Scales are rather strongly ctenoid on eyed side, mostly cycloid on blind side. Dorsal fin rays start above anterior edge of the right eye. Pectorals of ocular side are large with rounded tips, length about twice in that of head. Caudal fin with 18 rays (12 branched), rounded or double-truncate; caudal peduncle as long as deep or a little deeper than long. No Anal and dorsal spines. The lateral line is nearly straight; it curves slightly around the pectoral fin. There is an eye and side with the comb scale, there is not side is being put on only the tail sack is exposed with the round scale and an eye. Flounder Anatomy

Key characters

Flathead sole are a right-eyed flatfish with an oval-shaped or rather elongate, compressed body. Their eyed side is dark olive brown to reddish gray-brown, sometimes with dusky blotches. Their blind side has white and translucent areas, and their dorsal and anal fins have dusky blotches. Flathead sole have pores under their eyes. The upper jaw is narrow in the middle and has 1 row of teeth. Dorsal fins origin over anterior part of upper eye. Caudal fins with small elongation in center. Pectorals rather large with rounded tips.
  • 75-86 dorsal soft fin rays
  • 55-68 anal soft fin rays
  • 10-12 Pectoral fin rays (6 on blind side)
  • 18 Caudal fin rays
  • 4246 Vertebrae
  • 14-15 to 18-19 Gill rakers
  • 87-94 scales in lateral line
  • Max length: 52.0 cm.
  • Max weight: 1.6 kg.
  • Flathead Sole Anatomy

    Flathead sole eyed side is dark in color, olive brown to reddish grey-brown or Hwang green with or without darker spots; its blind side is white with translucent areas. The dorsal and anal fins have dusky blotches.

    Flathead sole is marine, demersal fish, live on mixed mud and sand bottoms in depths range 0 - 1050 m. Their nursery areas are in shallow estuaries, bays and near shore coastal areas along the northern Pacific coast. Larvae and eggs float near or on the surface and settle to the bottom after they metamorphose. Adult flathead sole spend the winter on spawning grounds near the shelf margins and then migrate to the mid and outer continental shelf in spring to feed. In the summertime, it disseminates on the shelf between isobaths of 30-80 meters. In winter, it goes down to the upper sections of the continent slope (450-500 meters).
        The flathead sole's diet varies with area and season. Small individuals eat Krill. Adult fish eat zoobenthos invertebrates found on the ocean floor such as clams, worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and brittle stars, as well as fish and squid.

    Flathead sole migrate from winter spawning grounds along the outer shelf to shallower water feeding grounds in the spring. They became mature at 2 to 3 years old in Puget Sound, but not until 6 years in the Bering Sea. They spawn from February through April to May-first week of June with the pick in April to May. Spawning occur in deeper waters near the margins of the continental shelf at the depth of 20-100 meters. It is a multiple spawning fish; reproduction takes 2 or 3 stages. Depending on their size, females can have 72,000 to 600,000 eggs. Eggs are large and are fertilized externally. They hatch in 9 to 20 days, depending on water temperature. Hatching time 3.75 days at 10.7C, 9 days at 9.8C.

    Fishing Methods:
    Flathead sole is commercial fisheries and good game fish usually caught with bottom trawls and line gear. It is great tasty fish with an excellent source of low-fat protein, calcium, and other important nutrients.
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