Q: I have been fishing the waters of Long Island Sound my whole life. Over the summer while fluke fishing, I noticed that in each area we fished, the fluke were different colors. How come?
Long Island, New York
A: Many fishes have the ability to mimic their surroundings by temporarily changing their color patterns. Flatfishes are particularly good at it. The benefits would seem to be obvious, since a fish that looks just like the bottom is more difficult for a potential predator to see. Conversely, this cryptic coloration also enables the fish to ambush unsuspecting prey items that come too close. The areas you fish vary more because of the bottom habitat than by geographic location. Thus, dark muddy bottoms probably host drab, olive-colored fluke with a few darker spots, and a pebbly bottom might yield a fish with various, random light spots that look like the occasional white pebble.
- Mike Fahay