Trout fishing in Florida is plentiful and can be caught by anglers with any skill level. The spotted seatrout, an inshore fish more commonly known as speckled seatrout, abounds in Florida waters, waiting to be hooked by beginners and experienced anglers alike.
What is a Trout?
Cynoscion nebulosus, the spotted seatrout, also known as speckled trout, is a common estuarine fish found in the southern United States along coasts of Gulf of Mexico and the coastal Atlantic Ocean from Maryland to Florida.
Seatrout, speckled seatrout, spotted squeteague, spotted trout, and spotted weakfish.
The spotted seatrout’s appearance is:
- Back is dark gray or green, fading to a silvery or white belly
- Several black spots on back extend to dorsal fins and tail
- Pair of large canine teeth at tip of upper jaw
- Lack barbels on lower jaw
They can grow to over 39 inches and 17 pounds.
For those looking to keep a spotted seatrout, the size limit is not less than 15 inches or more than 20 inches, with one fish over 20 inches per angler statewide.
Spotted seatrout prefer shallower bays and estuaries with oyster beds and seagrass beds that attract prey species. They are most common in the shallow bays during spring and summer. As water temperatures decline during fall, fish move into deeper bay waters and the Gulf of Mexico. As water temperatures warm in the spring the fish move back into the shallows of the primary and secondary bays. During periods of low rainfall and runoff, many trout often move into deeper rivers and bayous with the first cool weather of fall. Similar concentrations occur at dredged boat harbors and channels.
How to catch
Spotted seatrout are carnivores whose feeding habits vary with size. Small trout feed primarily on small crustaceans. Medium-size trout feed on shrimp and small fish. Large fish feed almost exclusively on other fish such as mullet, pinfish, pigfish and menhaden. This preference for large fish makes large trout difficult to catch. Large trout do not feed often and few anglers like to use 12-inch live mullet for bait. Trout are very delicate, so returning unwanted or illegal fish promptly to the water is necessary to maintain a healthy population.
Florida State Record
Seatrout (spotted Cynoscion nebulosus) record in Florida was 17 lb., 7 oz. caught in Ft. Pierce on May 11, 1995 by Craig F. Carson.