Monday, April 26, 2010

What's For Dinner? - Flounder Fluke!

Osprey with Flounder, May 2009 Totman Cove

The osprey are busy fishing in Totman Cove when the tide is low. Unlike most of the Maine coastal inlets which are rock and mud, our cove bottom is sand. From our house, I can see seven sandy beaches. Try that ten times fast: She surely sees seven sandy shores. We have millions of Sand Dollars here. One of the beaches is suitably called "Sand Dollar Beach." We also have lots of flounder. This makes for great fishing for the osprey and for eagles. They can see the fish moving against the sand. The Eagles fish and they also steal from the osprey. Many of the osprey are immature and not the most adept at catching then holding onto their catch. Sometimes they catch fish that are simply too big to handle and then they drop them. Two mornings ago, an osprey caught this 16" Flounder and then did just that: dropped in the rocks in front of our house. Immediately behind it was a mature Bald eagle. The eagle dove for the purloined fish but was intimidated by the proximity of the pier pilings. It's escape would have been hampered. Then, two Herring gulls that reside on our pier made a run for the Flounder. The fish just flapped helplessly much too far from the water to get back. Still in my morning bathrobe, I scurried down the steps and across the rocks with my camera. The fish had taken a 100' fall, and was bleeding from its mouth, but other than that had nary a scratch. So, this swift scavenger snatched it up and scampered back to the kitchen! David quickly filleted it. I dusted it with a combination of corn starch and cornmeal then into the skillet it went for a quick seer. Uuhhhhhmm, a drizzle of lemon and a salad and lunch was served! Food always tastes better when it's unexpected and fresh, a fluke, as it were.
Flounder are members of the Flatfish family which includes lots of species common to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and European waters. You may have heard of Dover Sole which comes from England. The flounder family is made up of many species of fish. In the United States, East Coast varieties include gray sole or 'Witch Flounder,' winter flounder (also called blackback), American plaice (also called dab or sand dab), yellowtail flounder (also called dab or rusty flounder), summer flounder (also called fluke), and southern flounder. Other members of the Flatfish family include common sole, lemon or English sole, black sole, white sole, halibut, turbot, and brill. Though it's been very warm here lately, I'm not sure if my prize would be a summer flounder or not. I don't know 'witch' flounder it was, but it was delicious.
You can see that the flounder is flat. They lie on the bottom nestling down in the sand or mud so that they can ambush their prey. The top of them is dark gray so they are hard to see from above, unless they are contrasted against sand. Their undersides are pure white. I neglected to photograph that side because I was pre-occupied thinking about recipes and getting dressed. When flounder hatch, they have one eye on each side of the head. As they mature and start lying flat on the bottom, one eye migrates across so that both eyes are on the top. Creepy, huh? They have a tiny mouth with sharp teeth for biting the little fish they like. They can be caught here by rod and reel. You've got to have a sinker so that your live bait is tugged gently along the bottom, hopefully across the path of a flounder. Or, you can wait for one to fall from the sky into your lap. My advice to you is if you catch one, don't kiss it and don't overcook it. It has a very delicate flavor. The Ospreys and I give it a solid ten.

Thanks to Wikipedia for some of this information. Click here for More About Flounder.
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  1. I enjoyed this entry so much! I used to fish for flounder when I was a child out on the islands around Vinalhaven. They were so delicious! But than the eel grass disappeared for awhile, and with them, the flounders. Now the eel grass is back, and the flounders, but I don't fish anymore. You were so lucky!I probably told you the story of how an osprey flew over my yard with a striped bass, harassed by an eagle. The osprey dropped the bass on my neighbors lawn. I ran up, told her why a bass was flopping around on her lawn, we put it in a bucket of water, drove down to the beach, and let it go. It would have been better to have made a meal of it because although the fish actually swam off, it was slow, and another osprey swooped down and picked it up! What a journey for that fish! Two springs I had rufous sided towhees here (yes, I am old enough to call it that!). They are a favorite of mine and used to call from the woods at my grandmother's place, and do their loud scratching in the dried leaves. We used to say the call was "Drink your tea!" I love having this wonderful photo of him.

  2. should think seriously of getting all these photos all together and having them "published"--they are really high quality and excellent material.

  3. They are STILL "RUFOUS SIDED" to take that bird snobs! :-)

  4. OK... I spent my entire life working on the early life histories of lots of I need to straighten you out on your flatfish knowledge.

    Winter Flounders are right-eyed, which means.....oh never mind.

    But foraging I can get into. And stealing from a predator is fine. My buddy Ken Able watches gulls drop clams on macadam roads to crack them, then speeds up and scares the gull away and grabs the opened clam. He carries cocktail sauce in his glove box.

    Your method of fishing for Winter Flounder is cool. What are your chances of a repeat harvest?

  5. You really do amuse me. First photographing a flounder with cloudy eyes and bleeding mouth, then popping it in the frying pan and eating it. And loving it. You're a funny girl, Robin Robinson. Or maybe it's a pioneer girl that you are. Good for you.

  6. Do you think you can get that Osprey to fetch me a few dozen lobsters for our family reunion this summer? LOL

    Excellent photos as always Robin! You never cease to amaze me: from Osprey to beach to frying pan... yummy!

  7. And here I thought you were going to RESCUE the poor flounder, who had been through quite enough and return him to the water...not the fry pan! The osprey photos deserve a "10" as posted.

  8. Ya! Don't show up at our house unannounced or I'm apt to bread you and throw you into the pan!

  9. Osprey with that photo..
    Thinkin of a fish dinner tonight.:)

  10. Osprey with flounder may be a contender this year !!! Great Photos !! You Rock !!

    Bonnie Kynoch

  11. So I gather from the story that you have different bathrobes for different times of the day? :-)


  12. So what's this? The Ivanna Trump of wildlife? If I were a weathly woman, I'd have different robes for different times of day. As it is, I have one robe for all. Granted, it's filthy and covered with what my husband would call DNA...........but it's all one robe.