Summer Flounder

Summer flounder or fluke ( Paralichthys dentatus ) live in estuarine and coastal waters from Nova Scotia to Southern Florida, with greatest abundance between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Most summer flounder inhabit Chesapeake Bay in the summer and move offshore to depths of 120 to 600 feet of water during the fall and winter. However, some summer flounder winter over in the Bay. Flounder are more common the deep channels of the lower Bay than in the upper Bay, extending as far north as the Gunpowder River.

Like other flounders, this species is a bottom-dwelling predator, relying on its flattened shape and ability to change color and pattern on the upper (eyed) side of its body. A predator with quick movements and sharp teeth, the flounder is able to capture the small fishes, squid, sea worms, shrimp and other crustaceans that comprise the bulk of its diet. Summer flounder can live to 20 years of age with females living longer and growing larger than males (up to 95 cm TL (3ft)).

Life Cycle

  • Summer flounder spawn during their offshore migration, from late summer to midwinter.
  • Larvae and post-larvae drift and migrate inshore, aided by prevailing water currents, and enter the Bay from October through May.
  • Larval flounder have body symmetry and eyes on both sides of their heads.
  • Upon reaching the estuaries, larval flounder undergo a metamorphosis to the post-larval stage. During metamorphosis, the right eye of the larval flounder gradually migrates to the left side of the head–the feature distinguishing summer flounder from winter flounder, whose eyes are on the right side–and the body takes on the flattened appearance that it retains as an adult fish.
  • Once the metamorphosis is complete, the post-larval flounder assumes the adults' bottom-dwelling lifestyle. Juvenile summer flounder often live among eelgrass beds in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Fishery

Summer flounder are major recreational and commercial species north of Cape Hatteras. Anglers catch summer flounder from the shore, piers and boats with hook and line. The recreational catch far exceeds the commercial catch in the Bay and near-shore coastal waters. The lower Bay and seaside inlets produce the bulk of the recreational landings. Between 1979 and 1985, the combined recreational harvest in Maryland and Virginia averaged 5.5 million pounds per year. Ninety percent were taken from Virginia waters.

  • Commercial landings in Virginia have historically been greater than those in Maryland.
  • Between 1981 and 1986, Virginia averaged 5.7 million pounds per year and Maryland averaged 583,000 pounds. However, more than 90 percent of the landings recorded for both states has come from outside state waters.
  • The great bulk of the catch is produced by the winter trawl fishery that operates in mid-continental shelf waters.
  • In the Bay, summer flounder are commercially caught by haul seines, pound nets and gill nets, but the species does not form a significant commercial fishery. In 1990 only 48,000 pounds of summer flounder were taken in Virginia Bay and ocean waters.
  • Since the mid-1980s commercial and recreational catches have declined precipitously because of over-fishing and year-class failure. The Chesapeake Bay record for summer flounder is a fish weighing 15 pounds, which was taken in Maryland waters.


To book your trip aboard Light Tackle Charters call Captain Walt at (410) 845-3231 or email him from this site! Remember, your date is not "booked" until a deposit has been recieved.

Light Tackle Charters
543 Wellington Road
Crisfield, Maryland 21817

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You may bring your own fly, spinning, casting or trolling outfits. I recommend different outfits of different size & weights dependent upon the time of year and the species we'll be stalking. Just talk with me (via phone or e-mail) prior to the trip and I'll be happy to make recommendations...