Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus)
Unlock the Mystery of Spotted Seatrout: Discover How This Fish Can Benefit You!
The Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) is a popular and fascinating coastal species that is found around the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Resembling a cross between a trout and a mackerel, it is often found in shallow waters such as bays, estuaries and canals. Its diet consists mainly of small crustaceans, such as shrimp, and small fish. It is a hardy fish and can tolerate water temperatures as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Its distinct spots and brightly-colored iridescent body make it an attractive fish and a popular choice for anglers. This unique species can provide a great recreational fishing opportunity, as well as food and habitat for other creatures in the coastal environment.
Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus)
Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), also known as speckled trout, speck or spot, is a type of shallow marine fish found in the temperate waters of the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. They are grey-green in color, often with white spots on their fins and bodies and wide forked tails. Spotted seatrout are a favorite food fish for recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, and their filets can be found in many seafood stores and restaurants throughout the region. Spotted seatrout are not a threatened species and are easily caught, though they take some skill to effectively target them.
The spotted seatrout is primarily an inshore species, found in estuaries and nearshore areas, typically with little salinity. They hover in shallow water and are active mostly at night. During the day, they often haunt deeper holes, such as channels, piers, and deep flats. Spotted seatrout prefers an areas of soft substrate, mud, or sand, such as in marshlands. The fish can range from 10 cm (4 in) to 30 cm (12 in) long and has an average lifespan of 8 to 10 years.
Habitat and Diet of Spotted Seatrout
Spotted seatrout are omnivores, meaning they have a varied diet that includes both plant and animal matter. They feed on small fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates found in their brackish water habitats. Spotted seatrout have been known to feed on the surface of the water, where they can take advantage of the emerging aquatic invertebrates, such as flying insects and floating debris. They have also been observed consuming an array of detritus found in the substrate, such as sea worms and dead baits.
The spotted seatrout prefers an environment with modest salinity levels, such as those found in salt marshes and estuarine waters. During its initial years, the fish is found in high salinity waters such as offshore areas near the Gulf Stream. In the winter months, spotted seatrout often settle closer to shore, in cooler and shallower waters. Spotted seatrout prefers temperatures ranging from 68°F (20°C) to 86°F (30°C).
Reproduction of Spotted Seatrout
Spotted seatrout generally reach maturity between 18 to 24 months. Spawning usually occurs late May to September when the temperature in the water rises. Females usually produce anywhere from 9,000 to 50,000 eggs which are usually released in large schools in the deeper waters. The eggs remain suspended in the water column until they hatch. It typically takes seven to ten days for the eggs to hatch.
The juveniles of spotted seatrout begin to appear shortly after the spawn in shallow protected bays and estuaries. They feed on smaller prey such as crustaceans, insects, and worms until they reach their adult size. As adults, their diet shifts to predominantly feed on small bait fish and crabs. Adults also tend to travel together in small schools of 10-20 fish.
Fishing Techniques for Spotted Seatrout
When fishing for spotted seatrout, the most common techniques used are jigging, casting, and drifting. Jigging a bucktail jig or similar bait near the bottom of the structure is a successful approach. Casting often involves the use of light tackle and a small bait such as shrimp, crabs, or lures. Drifting is often done near shore or in the mangroves where the fish can find protection from predators. The use of chum or berley will often bring the fish closer to where the drift boat is stationed.
When fishing for spotted seatrout, the best times are around the warmer months when the water is at its warmest. As with other species of fish, the morning or evening–just before or just after sunrise and sunset–tend to be the most successful times of day. Windy, overcast days can also be a good time to target spotted seatrout due to the cooler temperature of the water and the lack of ultra-violet rays.
The spotted seatrout is an abundant species all along the southeastern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean coasts. The fish can be found in seagrass beds, salt marshes, estuaries, and other areas of shallow subtidal water. They