Spotted Seatrout
Overview
 
The spotted seatrout also known as speckled trout,or spotted weakfish (Cynoscion nebulosus) is a common estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 found in the southern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. 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.
Encyclopedia
The spotted seatrout also known as speckled trout,or spotted weakfish (Cynoscion nebulosus) is a common estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 found in the southern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. 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
Salmonidae
Salmonidae is a family of ray-finned fish, the only living family currently placed in the order Salmoniformes. It includes salmon, trout, chars, freshwater whitefishes and graylings...

), but of the drum family (Sciaenidae
Sciaenidae
Sciaenidae is a family of fish commonly called drums, croakers, or hardheads for the repetitive throbbing or drumming sounds they make...

).

These fish have large, prominent canine teeth; dark back with grey or silvery sides marked with scattered ocellated black spots of varying size. Plain black spots are also present on the dorsal and tail fins. Its shape and coloration is reminiscent of a brown trout
Brown trout
The brown trout and the sea trout are fish of the same species....

 (Salmo trutta), hence the name. In stained water, this fish's background may take on a golden hue.

The average size of these fish is 0.5-1.0 kg (1-2 lb), but in most areas fish up to 2.5 kg (5 lb) are fairly common. 3.5-4.5 kg (8-10 lb) fish are rare. World record is 7.9 kg (17 lb 7 oz).
These fish are active most at dawn and dusk. A proven catching technique is at dark to throw out a glow stick into the water and cast around it as these fish are attracted to light (see Fishing light attractor
Fishing light attractor
A fishing light attractor is a fishing aid which uses lights attached to structure above water or suspended underwater to attract both fish and members of their food chain to specific areas in order to harvest them.-Purpose:...

). Live shrimp are an ideal bait, but speckled seatrout will commonly go for dead shrimp. Other excellent baits are fingerling mullet and soft artificials, if "worked" correctly. It has been proven that the very large fish will attempt to swallow mullet up to 1/3 of their own size. The most common method for taking trout is by artificial jig with a soft plastic grub.

Like all members of the drum family, mature males produce a "drumming" sound to attract females during the spawning season (May through early September). This fish is often found in shallow tidal creeks near flooded salt marshes, where it feeds mainly on shrimp
Shrimp
Shrimp are swimming, decapod crustaceans classified in the infraorder Caridea, found widely around the world in both fresh and salt water. Adult shrimp are filter feeding benthic animals living close to the bottom. They can live in schools and can swim rapidly backwards. Shrimp are an important...

 and small fish. Spotted seatrout are also known to congregate heavily over oyster reefs. It is fished
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 both commercially and recreationally.

The spotted seatrout makes for excellent tablefare with a firm, white meat.

This fish is more commonly referred to as "speckled trout" by coastal fisherman along the Gulf of Mexico. Residents of Florida and coastal Georgia commonly refer to it as simply "trout." The shorter alias, "specks," is also used.

This fish is closely related to the weakfish
Weakfish
The weakfish, Cynoscion regalis, is a marine fish of the drum family Sciaenidae.The head and back of this fish are dark brown in color with a greenish tinge. The sides have a faint silvery hue with dusky specks, and the belly is white. The origin of its name is based on the weakness of the mouth...

, Cynoscion regalis.

Management

Spotted seatrout is a very common recreational fish in the waters it inhabits, but commercial fishing of the species does still occur. The fishing of seatrout and the destruction of their habitat have caused the population to decline. Limited data is available on the stock of spotted seatrout because the species abundance can vary greatly as you move towards northern waters. However, the population is thought to be relatively maintained because the species' long spawning season helps them reproduce with speed and frequency.

The management of the species is limited to size and possession limits, but programs have been initiated to gather more information on their overall health and abundance.
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