Maryland Fish Facts

Spotted Seatrout
Spotted Seatrout


Spotted Seatrout
Cynoscion nebulosus
(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.​

Distribution:
  • 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.​

Size:
  • 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.​

Habitat:
  • 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.​

Spawning:
  • 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.​

Fishing Tips:
  • 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.​

Fun Fact:
  • 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)

​For more information on spotted seatrout and their management, please check the ASMFC websitewww.ASMFC.org (look for spotted seatrout in the Managed Species section or contact Harry Rickabaugh.