Righteye Flounders: Family Pleuronectidae
Species: Pleuronichthys coenosus (Girard 1854); from the Greek words pleuron (side) and ichthys (fish), and the Latin word coenosus (muddy).
Alternate Names: Mottled turbot, C-O turbot, and popeye sole.
Identification: An oval-shaped, right-eyed member of the flatfish family. C-O sole are most easily identified by a dark spot and crescent-shaped ring on the caudal fin (like an O inside a C). High dorsal and anal fins with first 5-6 rays in dorsal fin on the blind side; eyes large and protruding, separated by a high, bony ridge; a small mouth and thick lips. Coloring is generally brown to almost black with a spot about the size of an eye on the lateral line. However, Milton Love in his piscatorial Bible, Certainly More Than You Want to Know About The Fishes of the Pacific Coast, says: “Goodness, but c-o soles can come in a vast array of colors and patterns. Pink, yellow, cream, white, and brown are the most common, although you often see them almost solid white, and an occasional one has a blue ring or two. If you see a turbot that is brightly, one might say garishly marked, it is likely a c-o.”
Size: To 14 inches; most caught off piers are less than 12 inches.
Range: Punta Abreojos, southern Baja California to Prince William Sound, Alaska. Common from central Baja California to Vancouver Island or Hecate Strait, British Columbia.
Habitat: Found from the surf zone down to a recorded depth of 1,146 feet. Typically found on sandy bottoms but sometimes will be found around rocks and algae. Common to shallow water areas in bays. C-O’s typically feed on sediment dwellers such as polychaete worms and small crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, clams, brittle stars) but they will also gobble up small fish when available.
Piers: A fairly uncommon catch but occasionally seen at piers, especially those close to deep water. Best bets: Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, Redondo Beach Pier, Port Hueneme Pier, and Monterey Wharf #2.
Shoreline: Rarely caught from shore.
Boats: Occasionally taken by boaters fishing for sanddabs and other flatfish.
Bait and Tackle: C-O sole are small flatfish, which prefer a small hook and live bait. Bloodworm, lugworms, and small ghost shrimp are the best baits. However, almost any bait may attract a bite including cut anchovy, strips of squid, and pieces of shrimp or clam. Hooks should not be larger than size 4.
Food Value: Excellent. Due to size often best simply pan-fried.
Comments: An attractive and good tasting little fish.