Winter flounder are small flatfish belonging to the group known as “right-eyed flounder” because, when placed on a surface with their dark side facing up with their belly pointed toward the observer, their head (and eyes) will be facing toward the right. Like most flounder, they feature a lower, white side, which normally remains pointed
Winter flounder are small flatfish belonging to the group known as “right-eyed flounder” because, when placed on a surface with their dark side facing up with their belly pointed toward the observer, their head (and eyes) will be facing toward the right.
Winter flounder are a cool- to cold-water species; while individuals have been found in waters between Labrador and Georgia, for practical purposes the population never extended south of Delaware. They are a small fish, generally less than 18 inches in length and two pounds in weight, although some individuals, particularly those found on the offshore banks, can weigh as much as 7 or 8 pounds.
Winter flounder are managed as three distinct stocks, the Gulf of Maine and southern New England/Mid-Atlantic stocks, both of which spawn in inshore waters and often move into deeper waters when spawning is completed, and a Georges Bank stock, which spends its entire life in offshore waters on and near its namesake bank. All three stocks are managed by the National Marine Fishery Service’s Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, administered by the New England Fishery Management Council; the Gulf of Maine and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic stocks are also managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission when in state waters.
Winter flounder once supported important recreational and commercial fisheries, although the collapse of the Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic stock and an apparent decline of the Gulf of Maine stock over most of its range has sharply reduced flounder landings. The Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic stock is badly overfished, although overfishing is not currently occurring. The Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank stocks are neither overfished nor subject to overfishing.