Fantail Sole

Fantail Sole from the Malibu Pier

 Order Pleuronectiformes — Lefteye Flounders—Family Bothidae

Species: Xystreurys liolepis (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880); from the Greek words Xystreurys (meaning raker and wide), and liolepis (smooth and scale).

Alternate Names: Long fin sole, long finned flounder, fantail halibut, fantail flounder, true petrale.

Identification: Oval-shaped with a highly arched lateral line. The mouth is small and the pectoral fin is longer than the head. Uniform brown or tannish above with blue spots and generally two larger and darker spots (ocelli), one located near the pectoral fin and the other farther back.

Size: Length to 21 inches. The California record fish weighed 8 lb 8 oz and was taken at San Clemente Island in 2001.

Range: Gulf of California to Monterey Bay; according to Milton Love they are most common from Isla Creciente (near Bahia Magdalena), southern Baja California to Bahia de Sebastian Vizcaino, central Baja California.

Habitat: From the surf to 446 feet but generally in water 20-164 feet deep.  Generally found on sandy spots among eelgrass beds, kelp or rocks. Favorite foods include small shrimp, crab and squid.

Piers: More common to deeper water, fantails are an infrequent catch at piers, most being taken from Santa Barbara south. I have only taken four from piers—Huntington Beach Pier (1994), Malibu Pier (2014), Gaviota Pier (2008), and Pismo Beach Pier (1977).

KJ and Fantail Sole at Malibu Pier

Shoreline: Rarely caught from shore.

Boats: An occasional catch from boats.

Bait and Tackle: Most often caught on fairly small hooks (size 4 or 2) and a variety of baits including strip bait (squid and fish) and sea worms.

Food Value: Good.

Comments: Primarily taken by recreational fishermen and fisherladies; there’s no commercial fishery for fantails.

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