SPECKLED TROUT | THE FISH
Spotted seatrout are routinely called speckled trout, specks, or simply trout. Speckled trout can be distinguished by their elongated streamlined body, long pointed head, and mouth with the lower jaw extending beyond the upper. Their coloring is silvery gray on the upper sides and back with white on their bellies. The dark spots on the upper portion of their sides, the dorsal fin, and tail is what helps speckled trout be easily distinguished from other fish. Their overall color varies depending on the water conditions. The mouths, especially of the older fish, often show yellow coloration on the edges and interior. Thus, giving them the nickname “yellowmouth”.
SIZE & LOCATION
Typically speckled trout are 14-20” long and weigh about 14-20 pounds. Females grow faster and larger than males. Typically speaking all speckled trout weighing 5 pounds or more are females. The females have a longer life expectancy living on average ten years compared to the males 5 year life span. The male speckled trout have an ability to produce a deep drumming sound by contracting muscles on either side of the swim bladder. This sound, called “drum/drummin”, is used during courtship and when in distress.
Speckled trout can be found from Cape Cod down throughout the entire Gulf of Mexico. They are most commonly found along the northern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Coast. Trout can be found from nearly freshwater estuaries and out in the Gulf in depths up to 30 feet. Specks are a schooling species and favor locations where the currents are mixed, such as mouth of bodies of water, gullies and trenches, sharp bends, and contour changes of the bottom. Specks are often found near seagrasses and saltmarshes.
Speckled trout have over a 5 month spawning period usually from mid-April to mid-September. The timing does vary year to year depending on temperature. They can spawn multiple times throughout their reproductive season. A surprising fact is that the number of eggs released during each spawning event actually increases substantially as the females grow older. For example: a five year old female can produce about 5x as many eggs per spawning as a one year old. Therefore, it is obvious why practicing catch and release with larger females is such a benefit. Speckled Trout spend their entire lives in or near the estuary in which they were spawned. They will move within their home range from time to time during the year but typically spend summers in higher-salinity waters (areas closer to the Gulf) and winters in the lower salinity waters (the upper estuaries).
The feeding behavior of the speckled trout differs depending on the stage of life. Newly hatched speckled trout feed on plankton and as they grow, the diet shifts to larger mysids, shrimp, and then to small fish. Adult specks primarily feed on fish, shrimp, and crabs. The adults typically gather in small schools to feed in the shallower waters of the incoming tide. Speckled trout are ambush predators. They are quick and aggressive; making short lunges to capture their prey and swallow it whole. Their front canine teeth and row of smaller teeth help them to hold on to their prey. Speckled trout maybe fast and aggressive when ambushing their prey, however, they are prey to many other predators such as the bottlenose dolphins, sharks, and predatory birds such as ospreys, pelicans, and cormorants.
Specks sometimes harbor internal parasites commonly known as “spaghetti worms”. These parasites are usually found more in larger fish and do no significant harm to the fish. These “spaghetti worms” are not visually appealing to most people but the worms are not harmful to humans. Usually they can be removed manually or simply ignored.
SPECKLED TROUT | HOW TO CATCH THEM
Specks are a popular sportfish along the Gulf Coast. They are considered one of the “big three” of sportfish along with redfish and flounder. If you were to catch all three of these species during a single trip you would have what anglers call a “grand slam”. The methods of catching specks vary depending on angler preference. Equipment used can range from a cane pole to sophisticated spinning and fly rods and reels rigged with dead bait, live bait, artificial lures, and flies. If you are targeting speckled trout, a medium 6-7’ action rod will provide plenty of power to fight without pulling the hooks. You do want to opt for lighter gear as this will increase casting distance while maintaining maximum sensitivity.
BOOK A TRIP TODAY!!!
Speckled trout fishing tactics can vary throughout the season so when you call us. Additionally, be sure to tell us what type of experience your looking for. Book your trip today and be sure to ask Caitlyn Crimm, our Customer Experience Manager, for local restaurant recommendation. .