Scientific Name: Cynoscion nebulosus
Ideal Temp: 59–80.6ºF (15-27ºC)
Environment: Inshore, Surf
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.
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.