Common Sole - Solea Solea

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Latin: Solea Solea

English: Common Sole, Dover Sole, Black Sole, Slip (small specimens)

German: Seezunge

French: La Sole Commune

Italian: Sogliola Comune

Spanish: El Lenguado Común

Croatian: List, Švoja, Plać, Sval

About: The Common Sole is a flatfish in the Soleidae family. It hatches as an 'normal' fish with an eye on each side of the body - it changes shape to flatfish when it is about 1 cm (little less than half of an inch) long.

The eyes are close to each other on the right-hand side of the flat, oval body. Color varies - left, bottom side is pale-white, while upper, right side is mostly brown with numerous lighter and darker spots - great camouflage for sandy and similar sea bottoms.

Most of the time the Common Sole lurks half-buried in the sand/mud for passing prey, mostly small fish and crustaceans and when they pass, it strikes quickly. Also, it actively feeds on worms, fish, mollusks and small crustaceans at night (this 'actively' must be taken with a reserve - this is not aggressive, predatory species like, for example European Sea Bass and similar species).

Maximum length is about 70cm and weight up to a 3 kg. On average, it is much smaller, about 0.25 kg. It forms no schools, but in some areas can be found in larger quantities that resembles schools.

common-sole2Habitat: The Common Sole can be found in the Eastern Atlantic ocean, from the south of Norway to Senegal and in the Mediterranean Sea. It is present on sandy and muddy bottoms where it can hide easily. Small specimens can be found even in areas covered with seagrass where they have additional protection due to vegetation.

It ranges from 0 to 150 m depths. During spring and summer it is in shallower waters (usually 1 - 20m), while in the winter, it withdraws to the deeper, relatively warmer waters. Found in sea and brackish waters.

Fishing period: All year long, depending on fishing technique and location.

Fishing rigs and tackle: During colder months, it is commonly caught on a small longline, handline (from the boat) and using rod and reel. Hooks and lines are dimensioned according to the known fish size.

During warmer months, it can be caught in shallower waters also using small longline, handline and rod and reel, both from the boats and shore. Also, during calm weather it can be speared from the boat or during spearfishing.

In some areas, it is often a bycatch when using various hand-nets to catch prawns/shrimps in shallow water from low speed boats (form of small scale trawling, not allowed in some countries).

As a bait, use little worms, small chunks of fish or fish meat, prawns etc.

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Common Sole on fish market - with other fish like Gilthead Seabream, Common Pandora etc. Fish stew, anybody? :)
Photo by N.M.

Cuisine: One of the best tasting fish around, often considered a delicacy due to mild, buttery, sweet flavor and aroma. It is filleted easily and then often prepared as Sole meunière - it is a classic French dish consisting of sole (whole or fillet) dredged in milk and flour, pan fried in butter and served with the butter sauce and lemon. Simply a delicacy.

Also, one will not make a mistake and prepare it in the fish stew with other fish. Barbequed, with some olive oil and lemon juice, fantastic taste and fragrance ...