- Scientific name: Microstomus kitt
- Size: Up to 2ft in length and 7lbs. Not commonly caught from the shore.
- UK minimum size: 10ins/25cm
- UK shore caught record: 2lb 7oz
- IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
- Distribution: Commonly found throughout British, Scandinavian and Icelandic waters on stony, mixed and sandy seabeds.
- Feeds on: Mostly marine worms but also prawns, small crabs and shellfish.
- Description: Oval-shaped flatfish. Left eyed. Reddish to light brown in colour with speckles of orange and yellow. Has a white underside and lateral line is curved. Skin is quite slimy in freshly caught specimens.
Lemon sole is thought to be named because its shape is (vaguely) similar to a lemon and it is a lighter yellowy colour than the Dover sole. It does not taste of lemon in any way. They are a rare catch by anglers as they tend to live in deeper water than the Dover sole, and the lemon sole has a very small mouth meaning that when they do come within range of shore anglers they are rarely taken on a hook. They are a species which is found in colder water than the Dover sole. They are distributed all around the British Isles and also found in Scandinavian and Nordic waters with their range extending as far as the Barents Sea off the coast of Russia. Despite the similarity of their names the lemon sole and Dover sole are not closely related.
Lemon sole is also a highly rated food fish with demand coming from restaurants and high-end seafood retailers. Little information is available about the stock levels of this species with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature not yet having assessed this species. However, there are concerns that there are insufficient restrictions on the number of lemon sole which can be caught leading to concern over the long term health of stocks of this species. Furthermore lemon sole are likely to be caught by damaging commercial fishing methods such as beam trawling
Methods and Techniques to Catch Lemon Sole.
Due to the fact that they live in deeper water than most of the commonly caught flatfish such as dab, flounder and plaice lemon sole are not commonly caught from the shore or boat and are a species which even keen anglers may never catch. This species also has a tiny mouth which means that hooks which are very small by sea fishing standards such as size 4 or 6 may still be too big to catch lemon sole. For anglers who are determined to try and catch a lemon sole then using a size 8 or even smaller hook on a two or three hook flapping rig cast onto a sandy or muddy seabed offers the best chance. As worms make up the majority of the lemon sole’s diet ragworm, lugworm or maddies (harbour rag) are the best choices for bait.
The British shore caught record for lemon sole is a 2lb 7oz specimen caught by W. Callister fishing from Victoria Pier on the Isle of Man in 1980. The British boat caught record is a lemon sole weighing 3lb 4oz caught by Garry Newcombe off the coast of Devon in 2006. The IGFA world record is a 3lb 15oz lemon sole caught by Robert Stalcrona at Andørja, Norway in 2004.