North Carolina Sea Grant

April 14, 2010 | Barry Nash

north carolina fisheries

Spotted sea trout are found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.  Also know as speckled trout, the species is important to both commercial and recreational fishermen. The recent rain did not put a damper on the 18th annual Swansboro Speckled Trout Tournament.

“We had a fairly good turn out with all the serious trout fishing competition from the area. The key was finding some clean water that had not been dirtied up from all the rain last week. We were lucky enough to find clean water and catch some good trout. We had a bag of 18.9lbs with a 8.5 and 7.3lb trout to take the win and big fish award. Awesome day to say the least, one that would hold its own against some of the best trout fishermen in the state.” Capt. Rick Patterson

Spotted sea trout have elongated bodies that are dark, silvery gray on the back and shading to white on the underside.

The upper parts of the body have an iridescent sheen and display a few to many black spots.  The dorsal and tail fins are always spotted.  They have on or two large, sharp canine teeth at the front of the upper jaw.

Young spotted sea trout grow rapidly, reaching eight inches by their first year of life and over 12 inches by the second year. Spotted sea trout can live up to 12 years. Few males live over 5, so virtually all speckled trout 5 pounds and larger are females.

Spotted sea trout are voracious predators, especially in the summer when they spawn.  They eat a variety of foods but seem to prefer shrimp and other crustaceans. As they mature, they shift their food preference to fish, first to smaller fish such as silversides and anchovies, then later to larger prey fishes such as mullets, croakers and menhaden.

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Contributed by Barry Nash

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