SPECIES in Denmark – the flat ones


We have a lot of different species of fish and shellfish in the sea surrounding Denmark. Far west, we have the North sea – with high salinity, this is where the overall quality of the fish is best. It is, however, the hardest place to hunt – the water here is rarely calm, the visibility bad, but on a good day, this is Paradise.

The island Bornholm, is the far east of the country – nearer southern Sweden than Denmark, with very low salinity water. This is the only place in Denmark, where you find rocks. Bornholm is especially good for Sea trout and Turbot. Some of the species, like the Corkwing wrasse, grow bigger here, than in the rest of the country.

I am situated on the peninsula Djursland – the nose tip of mainland Jutland. Around here, you can find almost any variety of fish in Denmark. You can always find calm waters, some better that others, but if you want to go spearfishing, you can!

Here I will try to post some of the fish/shellfish that I typically land throughout the year.


First up – the flat ones:

THE FLOUNDER – this is by far the easiest catch for the noob. It can be tricky to find – buried in the sand, but once you learn to spot them, you are in for a treat. Very tasty, plentiful, and since there is almost no commercial hunt on them, it makes it the perfect source for under water hunting.

You can catch the Flounder in water depths from 0(!) to as deep as you can go. Typically hiding in the sand, near a reef, bank of see weed or so.

The flounder, can be recognised by its rough skin, flat body and its slightly oval/pointy shape. The Flounder can have red spots, just as the Plaice, but the flounder has its rough, tough skin – so feel the skin to know the difference. Once you have caught a bunch, it is easy to tell the difference.

Flounder is called “skrubbe” in danish.

THE PLAICE – The slightly bigger, brighter and more expensive cousin. The Plaice, is caught commercially in great numbers. It is however quite common to catch for the spearfisher as well. Just like the Flounder, it hides in the sand, and can be quite hard to spot.

Speaking about spots – the Plaice always has very bright red/orange spots on the upper-side. The skin is smoooooth, and the Plaice also has a tiny bony growth on its gill-plate.

You can catch the Plaice in water depths from 3 meters, to as deep as you can go. You can be lucky to fine one in very shallow water, but the Flounder are more common here.

Plaice is called “rødspætte” in danish.

Here you can see the difference between the Flounder and the Plaice. A stack of Flounders, together with one bright-spotted Plaice on top.

THE BRILL – This quite odd looking fish, is one of the two big flatfish in Denmark. Often weighing between 1 to 5 kg. It is slightly more oval than the other big flatfish – the Turbot. They are the hardest flatfish to spot – sometimes buried totally in the sand, and it is very rarely more than a flick of a tail, or tiny traces in the sand, that you will see from this fish. Sometime, you can be lucky to find a shallow “crater”, where the fish has been hiding – this comes from the suction the fish creates when it leaves its hiding place. If you do, you can follow the direction of the imprint, and if you are lucky, the fish lies not far ahead. It is a very tasty fish, with pure white meat.

Brill is called “slethvar” in danish.

THE TURBOT – This is considered the best tasting flatfish, for some, the best tasting fish overall, in Denmark. I tend to agree, but I like all of the flatfish – there is a place and time for them all. The Turbot has a more diamond shaped body, with small “spikes” all over its skin – in Denmark,

Turbot is called “pighvar” in danish – “pig” meaning spike.

THE DAB – The smallest of the bunch. It often confuses the spearfisher, with its big eyes, it looks big when hiding in the sand, but the smaller body then the rest of the flatfish, it is often a dissapointing experience – BUT – it is however a very very well tasting fish, and they can grow to a decent size. The Dab has visible scales, big eyes, a pointy head, and a white underside with zig-zag pattern.

Dab is called “ising” in danish.

Here you can see the difference between a skinned Flounder and a skinned Dab – I am pointing at the Dab.

THE SOLE (Dover sole) –

The Sole, is the only flatfish in Denmark, that is really feisty – when shot/stabbed, it curls up like an untameable flat, spring loaded, slippery tongue. You absolutely have to kill it with your knife, before you take it of your spear, otherwise you will loose it. Almost impossible to grab a hold of with your hands, even when it is dead. The Sole can grow quite large, and in summertime, it comes in great numbers to the shallow water. Hard to spot at daytime, but lies free of the sand at night.

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