There are many varieties of FLATFISH that breed all around the world.Flounder pictured on a postage stamp from the Soviet Union.
Flounders, flukes, halibuts, turbots, place and many varieties of sole.
Each of these fish are born with one eye on each side of its head. Both eyes migrate to one side of the head within two months following birth. Some species face their left sides upward, some face their right sides upward, and others face either side upward. Flatfish can live up to 42 years. Male halibut live to 27 years while female halibut sometimes live ’till age 42 and can weigh as much as 500 pounds or 226.79618 kilograms. Most ‘large’ halibut are about 80 pounds or 36.28739 kilograms.
Here, a ‘turbot’ hides in the sand. Its top side looks like sand while its obverse is white. From below the white side looks like sky and fools most predators.
Two eyes on one side is a practical arrangement, as typically flatfish hide in the sand and only emerges to dine when food passes.
When fishing for flatfish your job initially is to find them as they lay in wait secreted in the sand waiting for food to pass by. Present attractive bait physically close to their hiding place, jiggle that bait to pretend life, for flatfish won’t strike lifeless objects. This process takes patience, because flatfish don’t troll for food, nor aggressively grab and run with bait. In a few words… present your bait, jiggle it gently so it looks alive, retrieve slowly while continuing to keep your bait animated. Expect flatfish to follow bait for quite a while, even up to the surface, so no matter what, don’t give up and slowly keep jigging.
How To Filet And Skin A Flounder
Step by Step.
1.- Begin with a very sharp and flexible ‘filet knife’ and a fish that is ‘iced or cold’, because it’s difficult make a smooth cut through a fish that’s not cold. In the two videos that follow you’ll see two different types of filet knifes, strait and curved, both are excellent – you choose.
If you don’t have a good very sharp ‘filet knife’, for sure, your incisions will tear the flesh and you’ll wind up with an unattractive, wasteful end product!
2.- Make a clean cut on one side from gill to tail. Then, work your knife down along the rib cage.
3.- Cut around the head to the same depth.
4.- Pull off your right and left filet. Then turn the fish over and repeat similarly on the other side.
5.- Part II • Skin your filets.
a) Don’t ‘scale’ your fish, because scales supply needed strength and rigidity that will hold its flesh together.
b) Turn your knife at a 30º to 40º. Begin at the tail and start separating flesh from skin. Slide your knife gently back and fourth at that angle. After separating just a little bit grab hold of the skin, pull it up a little and keep cutting.
c) Result – four perfectly skinned fillets.
d) Extra Little Bones – just trim them off, or pull them out with pliers.
A friend of mine was introduced to the ‘ulu’ while on a cruise to Alaska and he enthusiastically told me about it.
‘Ulu’ is the ancient ‘rocking’ knife of the north. This instrument was used for many things including skinning seals and cutting hair. The oldest ulus found date to 2500 BCE.
Excellent for filleting fish plus its a versatile kitchen tool ideal for cutting all sorts of meats, vegetables, herbs, cheese and pizza.
Originally made from stone (slate) and bone – now available with modern wood, bone or plastic handles and stainless steel blades.
For more information check http://theulufactory.com/
HALIBUT are the largest of all flatfish and commonly found from Alaska to Baja California in Mexico, and within a broad arc of the temperate North Pacific Ocean, extending from Hokkaido, Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk, to the southern Chukchi Sea and ending at Point Camalu, Baja California, Mexico. They are bottom dwellers and live in waters to a depth of 1200 meters or 3,937.0079 feet.
• Halibut are the largest of all flatfish. ‘Some’ measured 8 feet long, weigh 500 pounds, may live more than 40 years!
ANCHORAGE — What might be the largest Pacific halibut ever documented was pulled from the Bering Sea off St. Paul Island Sept. 5 by the crew of the fishing boat “Miss Mary”.
What A Catch! It may be the biggest Pacific Halibut. Crew members of the Miss Mary, from left, captain Pat Davis, Barry Davis, and crewmen “Aki” and “The Kid,” got this halibut in the Bering Sea. Photo: / Associated Press
The 8-foot, 2-inch behemoth was estimated at 533 pounds — based on its length, according to crewman Barry Davis of Anchorage, who provided photographs of the fish taken aboard the longliner skippered by his brother, Pat, from Seattle.
No official records are kept on the size of commercially caught halibut in Alaska, but the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Notebook Series says the “largest ever recorded for the Northern Pacific was a 495-pound fish caught near Petersburg.”
The International Pacific Halibut Commission pegs the largest fish at 8 feet and an estimated 500 pounds, caught in 1974.
After the monster latched onto one of a string of hooks, the crew spotted what appeared to be a bus coming up from a depth of about 210 feet.
“It took all five of us to get it on board,” Barry Davis said. “We weren’t going to let him go.”
• Halibut have small scales embedded in the skin.
• The upper side of the fish tends to look like the ocean bottom. The underside is lighter, resembling the sky as seen from below. This protective coloring helps the fish hide from predators and prey alike.
• Halibut spawn during the winter months. Most spawning takes place off the edge of the continental shelf in deep waters of 200 to 300 fathoms.
• Male halibut become sexually mature at 7 or 8 years of age. Females attain sexual maturity at 8 to 12 years.
• Females lay 2-3 million eggs each year, depending on the size of the fish. Fertilized eggs hatch after about 15 days.
• Free-floating eggs and larvae float for up to 6 months and are transported up to several hundred miles by deep currents of the North Pacific. As the larvae grow they become lighter, rise nearer to the surface and migrate to the shallower waters, floating on the surface currents.
• Larvae begin life in an upright position with eyes on both sides of their head. When they are about an inch long, the left eye migrates over the snout to the right side of the head, and the color of the left side fades.
• When young halibut are about 6months old, they settle to the sea floor, where the protective coloring on their “eyed” side effectively camouflages them.
• Most young halibut ultimately spend from 5-7 years in rich, shallow nursery grounds, as in the Bering Sea.
• Generally, young halibut are found close to shore, and older, larger individuals in deeper water near the edge of the continental shelf. However, in the summer months, larger halibut move towards shallower water.
• Halibut up to 10 years of age migrate often in a clockwise direction east and south throughout the Gulf of Alaska.
• Older halibut don’t migrate as much. These older fish often use both shallow and deep waters over the annual cycle. However, they have much smaller “home ranges” than younger, more migratory fish.
• Halibut live quite a long time, but their growth rate varies depending on locations and habitat conditions.
• Females grow faster and live longer than males. The oldest recorded female was 42 years old and the oldest male was 27 years old.
• Larval halibut feed on plankton.
• Halibut ― juvenile and adult ― do not appear to be popular items on the menus of many fishes, although juvenile halibut have been found in the stomachs of adult halibut, Pacific cod and sand sole.
• Because they are strong swimmers, halibut are able to eat a large variety of fishes. In fact, halibut will feed on almost any animal they can fit in their mouths including: sand lance, octopus, crab, salmon, hermit crabs, lamprey, sculpin, cod, pollock and flounder.
• Juvenile halibut probably establish wide-ranging movement patterns, actively searching for areas of high prey (crustaceans and small fishes) abundance.
• Many adults establish small, home ranges where they wait for large fish or invertebrates to swim by. However, sometimes adult halibut leave the ocean bottom to feed on pelagic fish, such as sand lance and herring.
• Female halibut are bigger than the males. Few males reach 80 lbs in weight.
• The Atlantic halibut is a right-eyed flounder.
• Predators: In the North Pacific, the halibut’s only common predators are the sea lion, certain whales, the salmon shark and man. In the Atlantic, halibut have been overfished and for the most part the Atlantic Halibut fisheries are closed, however fish farms operate in Canada, Norway, the UK, Iceland and Chile.
Contact person(s): Jan Haslam or Allan MacIsaac
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