Ah, the burning question we get asked from a majority of anglers: Halibut or flounder? Whether you’re a novice angler or a seasoned pro, trying to differentiate between halibut and flounder can be tricky. To help anglers better understand the two species, we’ve compiled this comprehensive blog post reviewing both, with tips on characteristics, habitat, and fishing opportunities. Whether you're fishing on your own or booking a halibut fishing charter, these tips will help you along the way!
Alaska is home to both species- halibut (pacific) and flounder (arrowtooth). While they seem similar at first, there are some key differences to keep in mind. The biggest difference is in their sizes. Halibut are the largest member of the flatfish family and can reach sizes up to 8 feet in length! Flounder, on the other hand, tend to be smaller in size, ranging up to 2-3 ft. In addition to size, another key difference is their lifespan. Halibut have a lifespan of up to 55 years, while flounder have a lifespan of up to 27 years. Though these key differences help in understanding the species better, it can still pose problems with identifying them while on a halibut fishing charter. With that in mind, a key difference anglers can look for while on board is to check the texture of their skin. Halibut are smooth on both sides, while flounder are scaly and are similar texture to sandpaper.
Halibut vs. Flounder | Look-A-Likes
Though both species have key differences, they also have a quiet a bit in common. First and foremost, since they are both considered bottom fish, they both have flatfish body shapes. To accompany their body type, both of their eyes are located on one side of their body- giving them ideal vision for hunting prey above them, while being buried on the bottom surface. Another similar characteristic is that they are both dark on their top side and lighter on their bottom side- making them perfectly capable of camouflaging within the surface bottom.
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We understand these species a little better with knowing about their size and lifespan, so let's talk about differences in habitat. Not only are halibut the larger of the two species, they are also typically found in deeper waters than flounder. Depths for halibut fishing can range from 80ft to 600ft on a Homer halibut fishing charter. These depths and their sizes, anglers find halibut fishing to be more challenging compared to targeting flounder. Flounder on the other hand, prefer shallow habitats that include rocky surfaces mixed with muddy flats.
While depth and surface structure provides key differences in their habitats, a similarity for these species is their eating patterns. Both fish are considered to be migratory species- meaning they move around to feed during the non-spawning season and then migrate to deeper waters to spawn each year. They are also both considered predatory fish with opportunistic feeding tactics. Their feeding patterns are relatively the same with a diet that consists of other fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans. Since they are both bottom fish, they hunt for prey by burying themselves in the sand or mud until potential food sources pass by them.
When it comes to halibut vs. flounder, both are found to be healthy options and are easy to pair in meals. For starters, both species are high in protein, which aids in feeling fuller for longer! A perk to halibut is that is has fewer fat calories than flounder. Even more important, both halibut and flounder are also full of omega-3 fatty acids, a necessary compound for brain health. Beyond nutrition, halibut is prized for its buttery white flesh with mild flavor, perfect for roasting, pan searing, or poaching. Flounder, on the contrary, has delicate fillets that work well with lighter fare like lemon cream sauce or wine-poached vegetables. Depending on your texture preference and cooking style, both options present healthy additions to your meal preps!
While both species are native to Alaska, halibut are considered to be the more sought after specie of the two! When halibut fishing in Homer, you'll want to be equipped with the right halibut gear, halibut bait, and knowledge of the halibut tides. For these reasons, booking with an experienced fishing charter will give you the best opportunity for successful halibut fishing. Plus, by booking a guided fishing charter, you take the stress off preparing for your trip and get to spend the day enjoying the beautiful surroundings while fishing in Homer, Alaska!