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

August 9 - 11 Fishing Report - 8/17/2020 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)

April Fishing for Red Fish and Specks - 7/26/2020 10:43:55 PM

April fishing for red fish and speckle trout has been good. This time of year the fishing is always excellent with the weather being pleasurabl (View)

Friday 4/24/20 - 4/24/2020 12:25:52 PM

In Summary: Send all questions and pictures to Fishing Report: Frisco beaches reported Sea Mullet and Blowtoads. The Hatteras (View)

Wednesday 1/15/20 - 1/15/2020 7:35:53 PM

In Summary: Send all questions and pictures to Fishing Report: Some nice Specks were caught in Avon and Blow toads also. Blac (View)

Sunday 12/29/19 - 12/29/2019 10:16:22 PM

In Summary: Send all questions and pictures to Fishing Report: Wow! 70 degrees yesterday on Hatteras Island. There were Sea M (View)

Dec. 16 2019 - 12/17/2019 6:31:10 PM

Very calm day it warmed up to about 65 and sunshine!! I heard of two small specks caught north of the motels he was going back to look for bigge (View)

Friday 12/13/19 - 12/15/2019 2:31:30 PM

In Summary: Send all questions and pictures to Fishing Report: Some fishing news came from Hatteras Island yesterday. There w (View)

Sunday 11/24/19 - 11/25/2019 6:16:22 AM

In Summary: Send all questions and pictures to Surf Fishing Report: Another good surf fishing day. There were Black Drum and (View)

Saturday 11/23/19 - 11/23/2019 9:06:34 PM

In Summary: Send all questions and pictures to Surf Fishing Report: Fishing improved a little with the Point catching a few l (View)

October 28 2019 - 10/30/2019 4:20:54 PM

Sun with some late clouds today. NNE winds were fairly mild. Reports of Whiting Blowtoads and slot Reds on the beaches. Specks still biting in t (View)