Cynoscion nebulosus

Cynoscion nebulosus (Cuvier, 1830)

Languages: English


Comprehensive Description

"Spotted seatrout males average 19 inches (48 cm) in length. Females are 25 inches (63 cm) long on average. Males and females weigh 2 to 3 pounds (1 to 1.3 kg). Distinguishing characteristics include a dark gray or green back and silvery-white below, with distinct round spots on back, fins and tail; black margin along the edge of tail; soft dorsal (back) fin with no scales; and one or two prominent canine teeth usually present at the tip of the upper jaw.

Small trout feed primarily on small crustaceans. Medium-size trout feed on shrimp and small fish. Large fish feed almost exclusively on other fish. Predators of the spotted seatrout include alligator gar, striped bass, Atlantic croaker, tarpon and barracuda. Spotted seatrout swim near seagrass beds of shallow bays and estuaries during spring and summer, looking for prey. As water temperatures decline during fall, they move into deeper bay waters and the Gulf of Mexico. As water temperatures warm in the spring, the fish return to the shallows of the primary and secondary bays.

Spotted seatrout reaches sexual maturity at one to two years. Most large spotted seatrout caught are females and commonly live to be nine or 10 years of age. Anglers long ago recognized that very large trout were usually female and appropriately called them "sow" trout. A female spotted seatrout may spawn several times during the season. Younger females may release 100,000 eggs and older, larger females may release a million eggs. Recent studies indicate that spotted seatrout spawn between dusk and dawn and usually within coastal bays, estuaries and lagoons. They prefer shallow grassy areas where eggs and larvae have some cover from predators.

Some trout caught may have worms embedded in the flesh along the backbone. These "spaghetti" worms are larval stages of a tapeworm that can only reach maturity in sharks. The worms cannot survive in man even if the seatrout is eaten raw. The worms can easily be removed when the fish is cleaned to make the meat more appealing. The spotted seatrout is a member of the croaker family (Sciaenidae) and is a first cousin to the Atlantic croaker, red drum, black drum, and sand seatrout. "

(Information courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2004,

Author(s): Hammock, Jen
Rights holder(s): Hammock, Jen