The Pacific sanddab is a left eyed bottom dwelling flatfish with a special knack for camouflage. Being able to change their colour and pattern to match their surroundings gives them the advantage of being invisible to their prey while hiding from their own predators. They range from the Eastern Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico, and are usually found between 120 to 300 feet deep.
Sanddabs have an elongated to oval body that ranges in colour from dull brown to tan. They are mottled with dark spots on their dorsal side with a white to pale brown ventral side. Freshly caught males will exhibit dull orange spots and blotches. Their diet of crustaceans and mollusks give them a sweet nutty flavour and moist texture, making fried Pacific sanddab a regional delicacy on the Pacific Coast.
Of the four sanddab species found in the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Sanddab is the largest, commonly growing to 25 cm in length with some reaching up to 40 cm. They are mature and ready to spawn in two to three years and release their eggs near the bottom in bays and the open ocean where the water temperature is lower. Pacific sanddabs are a non-migratory species and usually spend their entire lives within a two-mile radius. Juvenile fish have been found to feed on zooplankton while the adults feast on a wide variety of squid, octopus, crustaceans and marine worms.
This fishery uses a large cone-shaped net that is dragged along the seafloor to catch fish. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push two "otter boards" outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path.