Both a member of the flatfish family, the sole and flounder, have unique similarities and, in contrast, vast differences. Each of the two is highly regarded as excellent table fare, which is why they find their way into our homes and restaurant menus. What exactly is the difference between a flounder and a sole fish?

What Does A Sole Look Like

One unique characteristic of the sole is the fact that it is incredibly slippery when handled by anglers. The fish is extra slippery as a result of the mucous emitted from the skin. Sole at better handled by wearing gloves. 

The mouths of these fish are small, while the eyes are large and protrude from their head. Like the flounder, the side which lays on the seafloor is colored white. 

Opposite the white bottom is a light brown top. Elongated black spots are scattered about the skin. 

When it comes to the body’s shape, flounder appear more rounded, whereas the sole are slender between the dorsal and anal fin. 

What Does A Flounder Look Like

The southern flounder, which is found in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, has a white bottom side precisely like the sole. On the upper side, where the eyes are positioned near the mouth, black spots are painted on the brown skin irregularly.

The sole and the flounder are similar in size. Sole max out at 28 inches in length compared to flounder maxing out at 36 inches. 

Where Do Dover Sole Live

The sole is a pacific coast fish that ranges between southern California up through Alaska. These fish lurk in deep waters, most commonly between 600 and 900 feet deep. 

Although the fish is commercially harvested, the populations remain high thanks to proper harvesting management by both the United States and Canada. 

Where Do Flounder Live

Much like the sole extending along the entire west coast of the United States and Canada, the flounder extends from Nova Scotia to Florida along the east coast of the atlantic. 

Flounders prefer seafloors that are sandy, muddy, and soft. However, flounder fishing is season as they migrate inshore or offshore when the water temperatures change. 

What Does Sole Taste Like

The fillets of sole are white, sweet, and flaky. As a result, they are highly versatile and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. 

The best cooking methods include broiling, baking, deep-frying, or pan-frying. Avoid using the grill unless wrapping fillets in foil because the fine flakes will crumble and be lost inside the cooking grates. 

What Does A Flounder Taste Like

The fillets of a flounder are nearly identical to that of a sole. Expect a sweet, flaky, mild flavor and texture once the fillets are cooked through. Another member of the flatfish family is the halibut. The halibut is substantially bigger with thick fillets.

Both are extraordinarily delicate, so take caution to avoid the fillets from crumbling into pieces. Equally as likely is overcooking the fish. The thin fillets cook through rapidly so monitor the progress closely. 

How Can You Purchase Flounder And Sole

Believe it or not, most grocery stores, whether fresh or frozen, carry both flounder and sole fillets. A trip to your local store may save you the headache of sourcing the varieties of flatfish. 

Anglers on the east coast of the United States have the opportunity to catch flounder fresh in the inland waters. Fresh is always best when compared to buying seafood from a market.

Online fish markets are an excellent resource for sourcing fillets. Next-day door front delivery is available online, and the fillets are guaranteed to be fresh. 

Now Can You Tell The Difference Between Sole And Flounder

Fortunately, you will not confuse the two during a day of fishing because they live in different oceans. Despite one being a pacific fish and the other an atlantic fish, the fillets are similar in appearance and taste. The next time you visit the grocery store pick up flounder and sole for a side-by-side comparison. Remember, substitute one for the other when your recipe calls for a flatfish.