SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cynoscion nebulosus
CHARACTERISTICS: Locally known as “speck” or speckled trout, the spotted seatrout is distinguished by small spots arranged in oblique rows along the upper sides and back and by the presence of large canine teeth. The body is generally silvery and dark gray-green on the sides and back. The caudal fin of young individuals is shaped like a lance head, becoming straight-edged or slightly concave in adults. All fins are pale green to yellow-green, and the dorsal and anal fins have scattered black spots. The somewhat elongate snout has a prominent mouth sporting large canine teeth, testifying to a piscivorous mode of life. See Cuvier and Valenciennes (1830) for original description.
ADULT SIZE: 10 to 24 in (254 to 610 mm). The state angling record (12 lb, 4 oz) was caught in 1980.
DISTRIBUTION: The spotted seatrout occurs in coastal environments from New England southward in Atlantic Coast drainages through Florida and Gulf Coast drainages into Mexico. Although this is not reflected on the adjacent map due to the freshwater emphasis of our study, Shipp (1986) reports this species as abundant in coastal areas of Alabama.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Specks usually inhabit large, shallow, grassy flats of estuarine waters. Adjacent channels and deep pools provide refuge during rapid temperature changes in winter months. Wade (1979) reports that spotted seatrout generally live within a 30-mile range, but movement of over 300 miles has been documented. Spawning occurs at night from May through September, with some adults reaching sexual maturity by the end of their first year. Spawning areas are thought to be deeper depressions and channels in bays adjacent to their preferred shallow, grassy flats. Foods of adult spotted seatrout include shrimp and small fin fish, while juveniles feed primarily on invertebrates.
REMARKS: The spotted seatrout is an extremely important game fish in the Mobile Delta. Malvestuto et al. (1983) report that anglers and commercial fishermen landed 108,361 pounds in the fall of 1980 and 1981.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Cuvier described the spotted seatrout in 1830.
Cynoscion means doglike, probably referring to the large canine teeth.
Nebulosus means spotty, referring to the dark spots found along the sides of the body.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Another source of information would be Dr. Bob Shipp's Guide to the Fishes of Gulf of Mexico.
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.