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Spotted Seatrout

Cynoscion nebulosus

The spotted seatrout is a sleek, silvery fish with black, round spots scattered across the back. (Duane Raver/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
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The spotted seatrout is a sleek, silvery fish with black, round spots scattered across the back. (Duane Raver/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

The spotted seatrout is a sleek, silvery fish with black, round spots scattered across the back. It visits the Chesapeake Bay from spring through autumn.

Appearance:

  • Sleek, elongated body
  • Dark, grayish-green back
  • Black, round spots scattered across the back and dorsal fin to the tail
  • Iridescent sides
  • Silvery belly
  • Deep notch in the dorsal fin
  • Squared tail fin
  • Large mouth with two large canine teeth in the upper jaw
  • Grows to 14-20 inches long and weighs about 5 pounds

Habitat:

  • Lives in shallow, sandy-bottom areas
  • Most often found near bay grass beds, pilings, jetties and other structures

Range:

  • Visits the Chesapeake Bay from April-November
  • Most common in the lower Bay but can be found as far north as Annapolis
  • Leaves the Bay in autumn to migrate southward

Feeding:

  • Preys upon small fish such as anchovies
  • Feeds mostly in the morning
  • One of the Bay’s top predators

Predators:

  • Larger predatory fish
  • Ospreys and other predatory birds

Voice:

  • Makes a drumming or purring sound
Spotted Seatrout courtesy of Sciaenid Acoustics Research Team, East Carolina University

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spawns from late May-July at night in the salty waters near the Bay’s mouth
  • Females may spawn 9-60 times and release as many as 3-20 million eggs during a single spawning season
  • Larvae hatch 18 hours after fertilization. Currents carry them to brackish-water nursery areas (usually shallow bay grass beds)
  • At 6-8 weeks old, juveniles begin to form schools with individuals of similar size
  • Matures at 2-4 years old
  • Can live for 15-18 years

Other Facts:

  • Also known as specs or speckled trout
  • A popular sport fish

  • The world record spotted seatrout weighed in at 17 pounds, 7 ounces
  • A member of the drum family, which includes spot, weakfish, red drum, black drum and Atlantic croaker. All drums are able to make a loud drumming or croaking sound by vibrating their swim bladder using special muscles.

Sources and Additional Information:




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