California Halibut are one of a handful of flatfish that can be left-eyed or right-eyed which makes identification a pain in the butt. Photo courtesy mexican-fish.com.

Species: California Halibut (Paralichthys californicus)
Location: Chetco River South Jetty, Brookings-Harbor, OR
Date: July 13, 2013

While fishing with my friend David Clarke, I tried to relive an amazing trip to Brookings I’d had years earlier. Sadly, it wasn’t happening.

The charter boat had provided good fishing, but David was so seasick, he didn’t get to wet a line much. He did manage some respectable rockfish and a nice Lingcod.

I, meanwhile, avoided the seasickness and boated 15 rockfish (Black, Canary, Yellowtail) and two Lingcod.

The meat in the cooler, we opted to try shore fishing the next day, and it was slow. Apart from a few Pacific Staghorn Sculpin, we were more or less getting nothing.

So we improvised, and I goofed off which my relatively new smartphone and its built-in camera.

*ominous music plays in background*

All we caught were tiny flatfish after that, and at the time, I couldn’t identify them. That’s partly because California Halibut, a species I’d hooked before but never landed, can be left- or right-eyed.

To the non-flatfish aficianados out there, flatfish are completely flat and have all coloration and external organs on one side while the other side is plain, semi-translucent white. The white side rests on the bottom while the side with eyes, camouflage, and the mouth goes up. They rest in the sand or mud for some hapless prey species to come by, and it’s all over.

Most species are either right- or left-eyed, but California Halibut can be both. It’s more problematic that they’re usually left-eyed, and we caught five that were right-eyed that day.

Eventually, I got my ID, and Species #48 was in the bag.

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