(A.K.A. Speckled Trout)
Key Distinguishing Markings:
- Spotted seatrout are dusky gray on top fading to silver at the belly.
- The upper body is marked with numerous dark spots which extend into the dorsal and tail fins.
- The dorsal and tail fins of the spotted seatrout are pale yellowish green.
- Spotted sea trout have a pair of enlarged canine teeth in their upper jaw and the lower jaw is projecting, as in a weakfish.
- Maximum length and weight is around 3 feet total length and 16 pounds.
- Females at maturity are usually larger than the males.
- Spotted seatrout can live up to 15 years, but individuals over 5 years old are rare.
- Can be found from Cape Cod to Mexico, but not common north of Delaware Bay.
- Spotted seatrout move into the Chesapeake Bay in April and May and leave as water temperatures fall in November.
- Spotted seatrout are mostly found in the lower bay.
- Adult spotted seatrout are found in waters with 5 parts per thousand salinity and greater, and prefer water temperatures from 60° to 80° Fahrenheit.
- Young of the year are found in shallow tidal creaks and beds of submerged aquatic vegetation.
- Adult spotted seatrout frequent grass beds, oyster bars, creek mouths, drop offs and submerged structure, generally in less than 10 feet of water.
- They like to eat shrimp, crabs and fish such as menhaden, Atlantic croaker, spot, anchovies and silversides.
- Adults swim in small schools with incoming tides and move into shallow areas to feed.
- The fish spawn from April to September at the mouth of the Bay.
- Spawning takes place at night and the fish constantly jump and mill around.
- Female fish produce an average of five to six hundred thousand eggs.
- Spotted seatrout generally mature at age one.
- Spotted seatrout can be caught by casting around structure, trolling or bottom fishing.
- Artificial lures, peeler and soft crabs, shrimp and live minnows are good baits.
- For current recreational size and creel limits, see Maryland's updated regulation page.
- A croaking sound is made by the males during spawning and can be heard one to two hours before sunset.
Family: Sciaenidae (drums and croakers)
Order: Perciformes (perch-likes)
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Illustration courtesy of Duane Raver, USFWS