Spotted Seatrout

The spotted seatrout, also known as speckled trout, is a common estuarine fish found in the southern United States along coasts of Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Ocean. While most of these fish are caught on shallow, grassy flats, spotted seatrout reside in virtually any inshore waters, from the surf of outside islands to far up coastal rivers, where they often come for shelter during cold weather. Contrary to its name, the spotted seatrout is not a member of the trout family (Salmonidae), but of the drum family (Sciaenidae). It is popular for commercial and especially recreational fishing in coastal waters of the southeastern United States. Adults reach 19-25 inches in length and 1-4 pounds in weight.


Spotted seatrout live in the top of the water column and are most numerous along the coasts of the southeastern states, such as Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. They are also common along the coasts of North and South Carolina and Virginia. Estuarine coasts are prime settlement areas. They are uncommonly seen north of Delaware Bay and along the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The spotted seatrout has prominent canine teeth. Like other fish of the family Sciaenidae, it has an elongated, soft dorsal fin with no scales; it is separated from the spinous dorsal fin by a deep notch. It usually has two anal spines and the lateral line extends to the tip of the caudal fin. The back has distinct spots scattered on it, including on the dorsal and caudal fins. Unlike some other members of the family Sciaenidae, the spotted seatrout does not have any chin barbels. In stained water, this fish's background may take on a golden hue. Its shape and coloration is reminiscent of a brown trout. This fish is closely related to the weakfish, Cynoscion regalis.


This bottom dwelling, predatory fish feeds at any level. It may be taken by chumming from a drifting or anchored boat, by trolling, jigging, surfcasting or fly-fishing. Shrimp is the most popular and effective bait. Whenever shrimp are abundant, spotted seatrout feed on them almost exclusively. As they grow larger, their diets shift toward fish, the larger, the better. Studies in Texas and Mississippi show that really big trout strongly prefer to feed on mullet; a large trout will find the largest mullet it can handle and try to swallow it. Often the mullet is half or two-thirds as large as the trout.

Artificial lures, peeler and soft crabs, shrimp and live minnows are good baits.It may be caught in salt or brackish water and shows a preference for shallow waters of estuaries.

Species Information

Scientific Name:Cynoscion nebulosus
Environment:Inshore, Surf
Ideal Temp:59–80.6ºF (15-27ºC)
Technique:Bottom Fishing, Casting, Chunking, Fly, Jigging, Trolling
Lure Type:Bottom Rig, Flies, Jigs, Plugs, Soft Plastics, Spoons, Topwater, Trolling
World Record:17 lbs. 7 ounces.
Other Names:specks, speckled trout, spotted seatrout, speckled seatrout, sea trout, seatrout, spotted trout

Latest Spotted Seatrout Fishing Reports and Spots

07/29/2021 - 7/29/2021 9:34:55 PM

Ramp 55 had pompano and sea mullet. Ramp 43 Pompano and sea mullet. Spanish on 44 in the hook. Flounder specks and puppy drum in the sound. Hav (View)

07/07/2021 - 7/7/2021 9:35:10 PM

What a nice day to be in Buxton. Had reports of specks and drum in the sound. Ramp 43 had some sea mullet and croaker. Have a great evening………R (View)

what the yellow fin - 6/9/2021 10:12:00 PM

Slower day today in the gulf but still plenty of smiles along the docks! Offshore boats caught yellowfin and big eye tuna along with some dolph (View)

Sunday's specks - 5/30/2021 9:46:00 PM

Today our offshore boats laid low for a blow day but we had some anglers who wanted to brave the blow inshore. Another 31 inch speckled trout r (View)

Not Saying Too Much... - 3/5/2021 4:35:59 PM

Likely closer to finished than to its start the speckled perch spawn continues in area lakes. On some lakes it seems to be tapering off. On oth (View)

Plugging for Specks - 10/6/2020 11:46:46 AM

  Cooling water temperatures and a massive run of mullet has triggered a fantastic sea trout Sea trout weighing to ten-pounds are typically tak (View)

Big Specks are Running - 11/10/2020 12:14:01 PM

Big sea trout weighing to ten pounds are now being caught in the fishy waters of Amelia Island both on artificial and live baits.  Best tide is (View)

Rainy February Means Drive-Up Specks - 2/18/2021 7:02:08 PM

This has been an unusually wet February with frequently warm days … a good combination for most freshwater anglers given the month’s stellar hi (View)

Spawning Bass and Specks off to a Slower Start - 2/1/2021 4:43:41 PM

Knowing it is very near prime time to find the heaviest largemouths of the year several longtime area bass anglers were confident that late-Jan (View)

August 9 - 11 Fishing Report - 8/9/2020 10:42:14 PM

Body:  Update on fishing over the last few days! Wahoo continue to bite offshore. We've been seeing a few thrown on the dock each day including (View)