Spotted sea trout or speckled trout for short, are usually found in the salty coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Atlantic. Despite their name, they’re actually more closely related to the drum family rather than the trout family.
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The speckled trout is an American light tackle favorite game fish because they’re easy to find, fun to catch, and great to eat. This also makes them popular with anglers of all levels from beginner to expert. Speckled trout have elongated bodies that are silver in color, with black dots on their sides, back, and fins. As they age, these spots start to fade, but the yellow in their mouth becomes more vivid.
Specks can reach over 35 inches and 15 pounds in their eight to ten years of life. However, the average fish caught will be closer to six pounds. Males will reach sexual maturity at two years of age, at which point they will be 7.9 to 9.4 inches long. Females will take longer, reaching sexual maturity at three years of age, and 8.3 to 9.8 inches long.
Speckled trout can be found in western Atlantic coastal waters from as far north as Cape Cod, and as far south as Florida. They can also be found along the Gulf Coast. Some of the best places to target them are Baffin Bay, Texas and Mosquito Lagoon, Florida. No matter which state you head to, they will typically be found inshore, schooling in bays and estuaries.
Speckled trout can be caught year-round, however, during the winter they tend not to be as active, due to the cooler waters. Feeding begins to pick up again in the spring and lasts through the fall. March and October tend to be the peak months, as March is when there are the most specks around and October is when shrimp migrate to shallower water within the Gulf.
Speckled trout are abundant across the southern and eastern coasts of the United States which allows anglers plenty of opportunities to target them. Although there’s plenty of specks each state has regulations and limits you need to know.
There is currently no closed season for speckled trout in Texas. Anglers can catch and harvest speckled trout year round. You can book a trip with the top guides across Texas here.
Texas speckled trout regulations are currently divided into two regions. The regions are north and south with the boundary being FM 457 which is just north of East Matagorda Bay.
In the north zone, the daily bag limit for speckled trout is 5 fish per person with a slot limit of 15 to 25 inches. The regulations also allow one of the 5 fish taken to be over the maximum length.
In the south zone, the daily bag limit for speckled trout is 3 fish per person with a slot limit of 17 to 23 inches. In the south zone no fish over the maximum length may be kept.
There is currently no closed season for speckled trout in Louisiana. Anglers can catch and harvest speckled trout year round. To hook into one of these inshore favorites, check out the best Louisiana speckled trout guides here.
In Louisiana speckled trout must be at least 12 inches long for harvest. Some areas allow only 2 fish over 25 inches. The daily bag limit in Louisiana is 25 fish per person except in some areas south of I-10 where the daily bag limit is 15.
There is currently no closed season for speckled trout in Mississippi. Anglers can catch and harvest speckled trout year round. You can book with Mississippi's finest trout guides here.
The daily bag limit in Mississippi is 15 speckled trout per person. Speckled trout must be at least 15 inches long to be harvested.
There is currently no closed season for speckled trout in Alabama. Anglers can catch and harvest speckled trout year round. To catch specks in AL, check out the state's top charter captains here.
The daily bag limit for speckled trout in Alabama is 6 fish per person. The slot limit in Alabama is 15 to 22 inches and only one of the 6 fish may be over the maximum length.
Updated on December 25, 2022
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