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Local Fish

If you like fresh seafood, North Carolina is an excellent place to live. We benefit from the productive waters of our sounds and estuaries, which produce shallow-water species such as shrimp, flounder, and mullet, and from our proximity to the Gulf Stream which provides pelagic species such as yellowfin tuna, king mackerel, mahi-mahi. Simply put, there are few places that boast the delicious variety of species we have available.

Each season members of the CSF receive a wide variety of specie. Members will enjoy an assortment of fresh, healthy seafood including: flounder, shrimp, triggerfish, spot, hard clams, and black drum. To date, the cooperative has delivered 31 species of the highest quality seafood. These species, we believe, showcase the diversity and flavor of North Carolina’s fisheries and provide a framework for discussing issues, challenges, and opportunities facing North Carolina’s local fisheries.

Seafood Availability Charts






Southern flounder, Paralichthys dentatus. Norther fluke.

SIZE: Largest recorded 30 lbs; avg. 1-3 lbs; over 11 lbs unusual.
HABITS: Migratory. Live on mud, sand, sand-shell, gravel or rock bottom and around wrecks. During warm months most occur in depths of 100 ft or less; during cold months they retreat to deeper water, some to 500 ft or more. Small fish occur in brackish water, a few in nearly fresh water; large fish in salt water. Usually feed near bottom but will pursue prey to the surface.
SEASON: Late April or May – late November or December.

Summer Flounder Recipes

Sea mullet, Menticirrhus americanus. Whiting, Southern Kingfish.

SIZE: To 3 lbs; avg. 1/3 – 1 lb; over lbs unusual.
HABITS: These bottom feeders aggregate on any type of bottom but adults favor sand or sand-shell along the beaches and around the mouths of inlets. Most occur in salt and brackish water from the tide-line to depths of 40 ft, some to at least 180 ft in the ocean.
SEASON: All year; best fishing November – April.


Shrimp - two species brown (Penaeus aztecus) and green tail (Penaeus setiferus).

SIZE: To 9 inches, though few reach this size.
HABITS: Spawn in ocean and carried by tides and wind driven currents into shallow estuaries in late winter and early spring. Prefer muddy and/or sandy bottom. Maximum life span 18 months; maturing before 12 months.
SEASON: June – November.  

Shrimp Recipes
Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) Information

Grey triggerfish, Balistes carolinensis.

SIZE: Maximum length 40 cm, usually 25 cm. Tall, laterally compressed, diamond shaped fish with small mouth and plate-like scales. First dorsal fin with three spiny rays.
HABITS: Occurs near the coast and on reefs in all warm seas. Not strong swimmer; usually found in rocky or seaweed-covered areas near coasts. Adults probably feed on small crustacean and mollusks found on rocks and sea bed.

Trigger Fish Recipes

Spot, Leiostomus xanthurus.

Distinguished from silver perch by having a dark shoulder spot and a slightly forked tail. In contrast, silver perch have no such spot and their tails are nearly straight.
SIZE: To 2 ¼ lbs; avg. ¼ - ½ lb; over 1 lb unusual.
HABITS: Most occur in salt and brackish water; a few in fresh water. This bottom feeder usually aggregates according to size, and frequents sand or mud bottom and shellfish beds. Adults are migratory; young fish may remain inshore all year, many in deep holes or channels during winter.
SEASON: June-October or mid November; best fishing September – October.

Spot Recipes

Hard clam, M. mercenaria. Quahog, littleneck.

SIZE: Legally harvestable size one inch; Maximum age 46.
HABITS: Found from Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada to Texas. Live in estuaries from intertidal zone to depths exceeding 15 m; sandy or muddy bottom. Maturity generally reached during second or third year at length of 1.3 inches.
SEASON: All year.
HARVEST METHOD: Hand and/or rake

Clam Recipes
Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) Information
Shellfish FAQ's

Black drum, Pogonias cromis. Drum. Young ones have 4 – 6 broad, black bars on their sides which disappear with age.

SIZE: Largest recorded 146 lbs; tackle record 111 lbs; avg. 1-4 lbs; over 15 lbs unusual.
HABITS: These inshore bottom feeders occur on any type of bottom in salt and brackish water, but prefer clam and oyster beds. They also frequent breakwaters, jetties, pilings, bridge abutments and piers.
SEASON: All year.


Illustrations courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant, by John Norton
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