Common name: Sole
Latin name: Solea solea
Record weight: An inshore species, hence the record weights for this small flatfish are quite similar. A boat caught best of 4lb 1oz 12 drams is bettered by the shore record of 6lb 8oz 10 drams.
Distribution: Found throughout the shallow sandy waters of Europe, particularly in shallow inshore waters. The main fishery for the sole lies between the Kent in the UK and the Dutch coast, extending down through the channel. Most common in water under 50m deep.
Features: A slender shaped flatfish with a uniform dark brown colouration. The sole should not be confused with it's cousins the lemon sole, which is much paler in colour, and the solenette, which is smaller and more of a sandy colour. Most sole lie with their right side uppermost. The dorsal and ventral fins extend almost the full length of the body and have a white edge in living fish.
Diet: Feeds mainly on crustaceans, particularly brown shrimp. Will also take small fish, molluscs and polycheate worms that are locally available in it's muddy environment.
Spawning: Spawning occurs in the early Spring when the females release several hundred thousand eggs into the current. The eggs are positively buoyant and hatch after approximately two weeks. The young fish then spend several months growing to a length of around 6cm before undergoing the metamorphosis to the adult (flat) form. Adult sole are now extremely rare in many parts of their former range thanks to the ease with which they can be netted from shallow sandy and muddy areas.