Speckled trout biology

Speckled trout can tolerate waters with a wide range of salinities as long as food is readily available.

Spotted seatrout, aka speckled trout, are members of the sciaenidae family, which includes drums, croakers and weakfish. They are prized as gamefish by recreational anglers throughout their range, from the Chesapeake Bay to Laguna Madre in south Texas, and have been occasionally caught as far north as New York and as far south as Mexico.

Speckled trout can tolerate extreme variations in salinity. While it is believed they prefer the low to medium salinity of coastal, inland waters and brackish estuaries, speckled trout are often found far inland, as long as there is a good food supply.

Unfortunately, sometimes speckled trout that overwinter in North Carolina are subject to cold-stun and cold-kill events. Several times in recent years, kills have been severe, once causing the season to be closed until June 15, as is required by the N.C. Spotted Sea Trout Fishery Management Plan if the kill is severe and affects four or more counties.

Because of their tendency to be caught in cold stuns and freezing fish kills, North Carolina speckled trout are very cyclic. They are prolific spawners and most reach reproductive age in their first year. More than 50 percent of all speckled trout are able to reproduce by the time they reach 10 inches in length. All trout that meet the 14-inch minimum size have probably spawned multiple times.

Speckled trout are batch spawners and usually begin spawning in mid- to late April and continue every several days through October.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1171 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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