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Flounder and Herring Identification

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations New Hampshire Saltwater Fishing

A few features help distinguish the flounder caught recreationally along New Hampshire’s coast that have size regulations: Orientation of the eyes (right- or left-eyed); mouth size; and shape of the lateral line or tail. Recreational saltwater anglers in N.H. most commonly catch winter flounder, followed by yellowtail, summer flounder and American plaice. While not often caught, Atlantic halibut are the largest flounder found in the Gulf of Maine.

Winter flounder

  • Eyes on right side
  • Small mouth
  • Scales between eyes

Yellowtail flounder

Arched lateral line

  • Eyes on right side
  • Small mouth

American plaice

  • Eyes on right side
  • Large mouth

Summer flounder

  • Eyes on left side
  • Large mouth
  • Sharp teeth

Atlantic halibut

Arched lateral line

  • Largest flatfish
  • Eyes on right side
  • Tail concave

Herring of New Hampshire

A variety of herring frequent N.H. coastal and estuarine waters and can be confusing to identify. River herring (alewife and blueback herring) and American shad are generally seen during spring spawning runs. Menhaden and Atlantic herring may appear in our estuaries during coastal migration in the summer or early fall.

Alewife

Dorsal fin forward of midlength

Eye diameter greater than snout length

Deep body

No teeth on roof of mouth

Blueback herring

Dorsal fin forward of midlength

Eye diameter less than snout length

No teeth on roof of mouth

Atlantic sea herring

Dorsal fin at midlength

Teeth on roof of mouth

Narrow body

American shad

May have a line of spots

Large mouth

Largest in the herring family

Upper jaw close to rear edge of eye

Atlantic menhaden

Series of random, smaller dark spots

Scaleless head =
1⁄3 of body length