Summer flounder are a highly prized fish sought by both commercial and recreational fishermen throughout Maryland. Found in estuarine and coastal waters from Nova Scotia to Florida during spring to fall, they move offshore to depths of 100 to 600 feet during the winter.
Their migration is presumably brought on by decreasing water temperatures and declining photoperiods in the fall. They are most abundant from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Fear, North Carolina and can be found in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, largely restricted to waters south of Annapolis, and occasionally in the upper Bay.
This left-eyed flatfish has both eyes on the left side of its body. Its "eyed" side is scattered with 10 to 14 eye-like spots which blend in with the ocean floor and it has a white belly. Its belly or underside is white. Summer flounder average between 3-6 pounds and 15"-22" (40-56 cm.) long.
They spend most of their lives on or close to the bottom, as other flatfishes do, and use their flattened shape and ability to change coloration and pattern on the eyed side of their bodies to partially burrow in the sediment, lie in ambush and wait for their prey.
The summer flounder season is open year-round. Though high season is during the summer months while the waters are warmer.
The recreational fishery for summer flounder in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay occurs in late summer from the Bay Bridge south, with the greatest amount of effort closer to the Virginia line and the mouth of the Potomac River. The most popular baits are minnows and squid strips, and drifting is the most popular method of fishing.
Participate in the Summer Flounder Volunteer Angler Survey
Participation in the Volunteer Angler Summer Flounder Survey is VERY important to summer flounder management along the East Coast. Anglers who participate in the Summer Flounder Volunteer Angler Survey will help guide the Department's management approach for both the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coast populations. To participate in this important survey, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/survey/index.asp or contact DNR at 1-877-620-8DNR, ext. 8311. A packet with forms and postage paid envelopes is available to anglers that do not wish to participate through the Internet.
License and Regulations
Simple, quick, and at the palm of your hand, DNR’s app is the easiest way to get your Maryland fishing license. Download the app on your smartphone (MD DNR), click Apply for License, and enroll. From the app, you can also register any catches, post photos, and check for regulations updates. Or, you can apply for a license through Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website.
There are a few instances where registering for a license may not be necessary; visit Maryland DNR for a full list of these exceptions. For more information on fishing without a license – and locations where licenses are not required – visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/Free-Fishing.aspx.
Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a complete list of Maryland’s Fishing Regulations.
Money generated from the sale of licenses goes directly to the conservation, protection, and preservation of Maryland’s natural habitat and cherished wildlife. Maryland DNR works tirelessly to maintain a healthy population of fish and game, and the regulations needed to sustain fishing and hunting in Maryland. Changes in regulations, dates, and requirements vary year-to-year. Please check with DNR frequently for the most up-to-date information.