Typical Size
15-20" (1-3 lbs.)
Decent Size
21-27" (4-8 lbs.)
Nice Size
28-32" (9-12 lbs.)
37.8" (22 lbs. 7 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

7 lbs.
Genus/Species Paralichthys dentatus
Common Names summer flounder, flatfish, flounder, doormat, flattie, sole, plaice
Hot Spots Duxbury Bay, Green Harbor, Plymouth Inner Harbor
Best Time June-August
Best Baits spinners, spoons, metal jigs, squid, killifish
Best Method Drifting with spinning bait
Fluke are often called the "chameleons of the sea" and for good reason. Their ability to adapt their color and pattern to the bottom on which they lie is better than any other fish in the sea. Typically, the eyed side of this fish is a dark brown with lighter brown/yellow areas with numerous scattered paler eye-like spots. The bottom side of the fish is usually a pure snow white. The fluke is a left-sided flatfish (meaning that it lies on the bottom on its right side), and has a large mouth filled with very sharp teeth. Caution should be used when handling this fish.
Fluke are a welcome summertime visitor to the southshore waters.

Fluke live offshore at depths of 150 to 400 feet but move inshore in the summer following warming water temperatures and strong baitfish supply. They prefer sandy or mud bottoms near areas of structure or vegetation such as eel grass. And although fluke are bottom feeders, they are predators, not scavengers like other flounder. Also, unlike other flounders, fluke use their eyes to find prey, rather than their sense of smell and as such feed most actively during daylight hours. Their diet is varied, but is almost always live, and includes all species of small fish, shrimp, squid, crabs, and mollusks.

Fluke range from Maine down to Florida but undergo seasonal migrations in these more northerly and southerly reaches of their range. On the south shore of Massachusetts, they first move into the region typically around mid-May, influenced by both temperature and food supply. They tend to leave the area in September.

It is written that spawning takes place in autumn as they head to the offshore grounds when fluke are approximately a foot long and about two years old. Larvae drift inshore, and move into coastal and estuarine areas in the winter. Young-of-year fish spend their time in the grassy marsh waters until they reach about six inches (1 year). After that point the juvenile fluke join the adult migration to offshore waters.

You can fish for fluke with bait or with artificials but keep in mind that they are predators, not scavengers. The best bait is live bait. Silversides, chubs, sand eels, etc. make excellent bait for fluke. If live bait is not possible, you'll need to provide some action to your bait offering. Cutting squid into strips and forking it in the end will undulate the strip in the water. With dead whole baitfish like chubs or sand eels, you'll need to jig your bait off the bottom. Another great technique is to attach one or more spinners above the bait, or some sort of flashy material, in a single or a double bait rig with a 2-6 ounce sinker attached for holding the bottom in a current or while drifting.

Using artificial lures is very effective for fluke, as they tend to ambush schools of baitfish with a burst of fury. Bucktail jigs work well when there are schools of baitfish in the area such as mummichogs or sand launce. Some fishermen swear that tipping the bucktail with a squid strip is the ticket, while others say that soft plastic curly-tail jigs work better on fluke. The truth is, they all will work, so long as your jigging in an area that houses fish. Jig along the sides of drop offs and the edges of structure for best success.

Fishing for fluke is an extremely important commercial and recreational fishery. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, a few charter boats take passengers out on fluke trips, but the majority of the fluking is done from personal pleasure craft. The meat of the fluke is white, flaky, and delicate. It can be fried, baked or broiled. Due to it's delicate flavor, it is very important that fluke be fresh and that care be taken when handling the fish after capture.