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name Season Bag Limit Size Limit Note
Winter Flounder OPEN 2 12.00 Season Closes 2017-12-31

Scroll to read our latest NJ Winter Flounder fishing reports

Winter Flounder

(Pseudopleuronectes Americanus)

Other names: Blackbacks, Flounder, Sole, Lemon Sole

General Information

Winter flounder's name derives from its tendency to move during the winter months to shallower inshore waters. It ranges from Maine to the waters of Virginia and is most abundant from Barnegat Bay north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is frequently called "blackback" because it takes on the color of the bottom around it and particularly likes black mud bottoms. Like all flat fish, the winter flounder has both eyes on one side of the head. A newly hatched flat fish larva has one eye in each side of its head but within months it changes to a bottom dwelling lifestyle, by which time one eye has moved to the other side of the head. Unlike most other bottom dwelling fish that rest by lying on their bellies, a flat fish rests on its side. Having both eyes on one side of its head enables the flat fish to rest on the ocean's floor while directing both eyes upward. The winter flounder is referred to as a right handed flounder because the eyes are located on its upper surface when the fish is pointing to the right.

NJ Fishing Season

Winter Flounder are currently heavily Regulated cutting down drastically the ability to catch these fish.

NJ Season Regulations March 1 - December 31  2 Fish per person of at least 12 inches.

NJ Winter Flounder Regulations History
  1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Bag limit 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 10 10 10 10 10 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Min Size(inches) 0 0 10 11 11 11 11 11 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
Season Length(wks) 29 29 29 29 26 29 29 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 44 44 44


Winter Flounder Sizes
Current Records
Catch Place
Catch Date
IGFA World Record
  7 lbs. 0 oz Fire Island, New York May 8, 1986 Dr. Einar Grell
NJ State Record
  5 lbs. 11 oz. Off Barnegat Light May 11, 1993 Jimmy Swanson

Winter Flounder are generally much smaller than their cousin, the Fluke. Most fish caught in NJ range between 10 - 18 inches though some have been caught on wrecks in the Ocean up to 6 lbs. A 12" winter flounder is about 2 to 3 years old, a 20" winter flounder is about 9 to 10 years old. Female winter flounder grow faster than males and attain larger maximum sizes to about 8 pounds with a length of 25 inches and may live up to 15 years.

Food (Bait)

Larval and juvenile winter flounder feed on the egg, larval and adult stages of various invertebrates. Adults feed on a great variety of organisms including shrimp, clams, worms, fish fry and mussels. Winter flounder feed mainly during daylight hours and are more active during flooding or ebbing tides than during slack water periods.

Angling Tips

Anglers pursue this species from docks, jetties, party and private boats. Areas with mud and patches of eelgrass providers anglers with the greatest opportunity for success. Winter flounder provide the most enjoyable action when caught on light tackle. Most anglers use 10 to 15 pound test monofilament line on a 6 1/2 foot medium action spinning rod or a small boat rod. Flounder hooks attached with snells or leaders can be fastened to the end of a wire spreader with a sinker attached to its center, or tied directly to the line 12 to 18 inches below a sinker.

Seaworms are considered the best bait for winter flounder. The key is to use very little bait; an inch of worm will work best. Winter flounder can quickly and quietly sneak in and take baits; thus, unattended rods lose fish. The rod should be raised often to check for fish as well as to attract them. It is absolutely necessary to chum heavily to put together a good catch of winter flounder. Most sharpies work multiple chum pots.  Clam and Mussel chum along with rice, corn, cracked mussels, cat food, and a myriad of other things are used by determined fisherman. It is unclear why, but Flounder seem to prefer the color yellow. Small yellow beads used on hooks and sinkers painted yellow are a couple of strategies to put more fish in the box. 


Both male and female winter flounder normally reach sexual maturity at 3 years of age. The fecundity increases with body size, with smaller females producing about 500,000 and larger females around 1,500,00 eggs per year. In New Jersey, reproduction occurs in estuaries from January to May with peak activity during February and March when the water temperatures are the coldest of the year, ranging from 32 to 39 degrees F. Evidence suggests that specific individuals return for many years to the same site to spawn. Unlike the floating eggs of all other local flatfish, eggs of the winter flounder clump together in masses on the bottom. Eggs, usually laid on clean sand, hatch 15 to 18 days after being released.


Winter flounder are one of the most stationary of fishes, displaying a limited seasonal migration. Fish stay overwinter in inshore areas. As summer approaches, the shallow inland waters become warm, and the larger fish move offshore to deeper waters. Although a given population usually remains fairly stationary, there is evidence of wide scale movement of some individuals perhaps in search of food.


Winter flounder should be iced immediately after capture.


No fish lends itself to more imaginative dishes as does the winter flounder. Its texture and delicate flavor are well suited to sauces, spices, fruits, vegetables and other seafoods. Few species can be mixed with so many things and still stand out. Winter flounder can be fried, steamed, baked, microwaved, or broiled and can be substituted for other species in most fish recipes.

Latest NJ Winter Flounder Reports

  • 2017-06-08 Ristori Bay Head

    Capt. Allen Lee had run the boat down there for this week's South Jersey Shark Tournament plus the upcoming tuna fishing, and was just fun fishing at 2 30 a. m. Sunday when the mako took two baits. Don Marantz invited me to join his Monday party on BarbGail IV from Point Pleasant along with former JCAA presidents Tom Fote and Mark Taylor plus Bruce Vitale and Dr. Eleanor Bochenek as Capt. Chris put us into a boat limit of sea bass on a wreck before making a run to Shark River Reef for another boat limit of big winter flounder that had to outfight protected ocean pout for Gulp 4-inch Swimming Mullet.
  • 2017-06-07 Ristori Bay Head

    Capt. Rob Semkewyc got an assist from Capt. Pete Wagner on Hyper Striper from Twin Lights in Highlands wih a castnet full of bunkers during his Tuesday Magic Hours trip with the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands and boated several stripers from 30 to 46. Capt. Kenny Namowitz has openings on his Mimi IV from Point Pleasant on Thursday for bottom fishing that's been producing limits of sea bass and winter flounder.
  • 2017-05-27 Ocean Explorer Belmar

    Another great day of sea bass fishing,,fish were flying all day as we drifted as it was so calm out there...even had some flukes,,,winter flounder and ling mixed in to.
  • 2017-05-16 Seahunter Atlantic Highlands

    After all the rain and wind the past few days and the color of the water on the way out. We ended up picking most of the day with short and keeper Stripers and even had three jumbo flounder to top things off.
  • 2017-05-15 Dorothy B Atlantic Highlands

    The action on the shorts began as the first line went into the water and provided action on and off for the rest of the trip. We landed 4 keeper Bass, 2 Flounder as well as all the throwbacks even though the conditions were far from favorable. 
  • 2017-04-20 Ristori Bay Head

    Shore fishermen are about to enjoy what will probably be the most exciting casting of the year during the next few weeks as big bluefish take over in rivers, inlets and bays. Bunker chunks have been producing some in Barnegat Bay and Toms River -- and the Tackle Box in Hazlet reported they were hitting all day Thursday in Raritan Bay.
  • 2017-04-19 Ristori Bay Head

    20th Annual NJ Banquet Auction 20th Annual New Jersey IGFA Fundraising Banquet Auction Friday, April 21, 2017 at 7 pm Doolan's Shore Club700 State Hwy 71Spring Lake, New Jersey, USA Featuring a cocktail hour, hot cold buffet dinner, a Grand Raffle with items from YETI, Maxel, Tsunami, and much more!Reserve your seats today by emailing IGFA New Jersey Representative Jeff Merrill at jeffmerrill2 verizon.
  • 2017-04-19 Big Mohawk Belmar

  • 2017-04-14 Ristori Bay Head

    The Golden Eagle from Belmar saw some big bass on top early Friday, but only marked them later in the trip as a couple up to 33 inches were boated. Those boats will be looking for stripers Saturday along with Miss Belmar Princess and the Jamaica from Brielle.
  • 2017-04-13 Ristori Bay Head

    A mild winter and early spring often results in a good April bite of mostly short stripers on clams for Raritan Bay boaters, but this year the bass have been on herring and hitting lures. Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park is still hoping for the first bluefish report, but reports school stripers in the surf on clams and small lures -- plus many more in Barnegat Bay on bloodworms and small plugs.

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