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Starry Flounder




Information and factsstarry flounder

Species Name
Starry Flounder
(Platichthys stellatus)

The starry flounder is a common flatfish found around the margins of the North Pacific.

starry flounderThe distinctive features of the starry flounder include the combination of black and white-to-orange bar on the dorsol and, anal fins as well as the skin covered with scales modified into tiny star-shaped plates or tubercles (thus both the common name and species epithet), resulting in a rough feel. The eyed side is black to dark brown, while the lower side is white or cream-colored. Although classed as "righteye flounders," individuals may have their eyes on either the right or left side. They have been recorded at up to 91 cm and 9 kg.

Starry flounders are inshore fish, ranging up estuaries well into the freshwater zone, to the first riffles, with young found as much as 120 km inland. In marine environments, they occur as deep as 375 m. They glide over the bottom by rippling their dorsal and anal fins, seeking out a variety of benthic invertebrates. Larvae start out consuming planktonic algae and crustaceans, then as they metamorphose they shift to larger animals.

starry flounderLike all flounders, when young starry flounders swim around like normal fish, vertically, but soon they begin to tilt to a side as they swim and eventually live lying on the sandy floor. As well as many other changes in body structure, the migration of one of its eyes is of the most crucial changes, including the loss of dark color on its side which touches the ground.

The average catch is 1 to 3 pounds and 12 to 18 inches in length. But 6 to 7 pounders about 2 feet long are caught. Starry flounder are dark brown on the top side, white on the bottom side, and have a very distinctive checkerboard orange and black alternating color pattern on both the upper and lower fin lines.

Starry Flounder Fishing Tips, Tricks and Techniques

Each winter thousands of starry flounder migrate from Pacific Ocean water (at a depth of as much as 900 feet) into bays, lagoons, and to some extent even into the fresh water of coastal runs, where they then spawn. Fishing is usually good from mid-December through March with a peak in February.

Fish shallow water with sandy or mud bottoms. One key to success is to seek out areas around the bays where fresh water runs in. River inlets, sloughs, creeks or even storm drains are all likely spots.

starry flounderThe best time to catch them is after a gale this is when they invade storm beaches looking for shellfish that have been ripped from there shells. The best bait to use for this time  is razorfish & cockles. At other times the best general baits are peeler crab, white rag & red rag. Flounders are nosy fish so luminous beads are always worth adding to your traces. Flounder lures are good when fishing on sheltered beaches or harbours & piers. Rag worms are best used when the water is clear. Hook the worm leaving the tale end free to wiggle about in the water. The way they bite varies,from small nibbles to fast bending runs. It is best not to strike when they bite but just let the hook do the job in its own time.

Any freshwater or light saltwater tackle and line will do. Tie or snap on a surf rig. Two #6 baitholder hooks and a 1 to 2 ounce pyramid sinker are about right. Sliding sinker rigs also work. Top baits for starry flounder are pile worms, blood worms, mussel, grass shrimp, mud shrimp and ghost shrimp.

Bring along several different baits and experiment. Best method i think is to use a large piece of peeler crab (juicy). Cast a long distance out and then every couple of minutes just give you reel one turn of the handle. This will disturb the sea bed and the nosy flatfish will be drawn to it. Best fishing is before, during and after a substantial high tide (5 feet or so). Remember to keep your rig on the bottom – that’s where flatfish feed.

More Resources on Flounder Fishing

You’ve now reached the end of your steelhead educational journey. We hope that the information provided on this page is useful to you. You may want to learn more about flounder fishingl, so that’s why we put together the below list of additional resources. Below you’ll find some 3rd party resources related to flounder fishing. Hopefully they are useful to you.

  • Flounder Fishing Tactics and Techniques - by Keith Kaufman. Want to know how the pros go after flounder-AKA fluke? This is the book for you. Tackle, tactics, and techniques of the masters are exposed in this one-of-a-kind how-to fishing book.
  • Starry Flounder – Wikipedia – Learn more about this flounder on Wikipedia.