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Spotted Seatrout


Spotted Seatrout: Cynoscion nebulosus

Florida Regulations:

RegulationsNortheast zoneNorthwest zoneSoutheast and Southwest zones
Minimum Size Limit More than 15 inches and less than 20 inches total length (may possess one over 20 inches included in bag limit)
Daily Bag Limit 6 per harvester per day 5 per harvester per day 4 per harvester per day
Season Open year-round


Gear Requirements:

  • Allowable Gear: Hook and line; cast net

Spotted Seatrout Management Zones:


  • Northwest: Escambia County through Fred Howard Park Causeway near Pasco County.
  • Southwest: Fred Howard Park Causeway through Monroe County line at Card Sound.
  • Southeast: Miami-Dade County at Card South through Volusia County.
  • Northeast: Flagler through Nassau counties.

State Waters Harvest Seasons


Habitat and Fishing Tips:

Seatrout found inshore and nearshore in and around seagrass meadows, mangrove-fringed shorelines, deep holes and channels and above oyster bars. Free-line live shrimp or small pinfish or pigfish (grunts) near the bottom to entice trout out of grass-bed holes. Attaching a float will allow these baits to drift over the grass beds as you search for trout. Casting with soft-bodied jigs, top-water poppers and spoons can be effective. Trout are very delicate, so returning unwanted or illegal fish promptly to the water is necessary to maintain a healthy population. Spotted seatrout are a good eating fish.   


State Record:

17 lb 7 oz, caught near Ft. Pierce

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Spotted Seatrout Management in Florida

Spotted seatrout is managed for both commercial and recreational fishing in Florida.  spotted seatroutManagement in Florida began for spotted seatrout in the late 1980s when the fishery was declining. At the Nov. 2011 Commission meeting, the FWC made several changes to how spotted seatrout are managed, including splitting the South management zones in two and going from a total of three management zones (Northeast, Northwest and South) to four management zones (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest.)

The management goal for spotted seatrout in Florida is a 35% spawning potential ratio (SPR). Stock assessments were conducted in 2003 and 2006 that showed the spotted seatrout population as relatively stable. The 2010 stock assessment includes data through 2009 and it showed that the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest zones are exceeding the 35% SPR management goal. The Northwest area is hovering right at 35%.

At the Nov. 2011 Commission meeting, the following rules were approved, becoming effective February 1, 2012:


  • Removal of season closures
  • Northeast bag limit increased to 6 fish


  • Southeast and Southwest region defined
  • Increase in seasons
    • Southeast: May 1- Sept 30
    • Northeast: June 1- November 30
    • Southwest and Northwest: June 1- October 31
  • A commercial vessel limit of 150 with two or more licensed fishermen are aboard
  • Sale of seatrout inventory will be allowed for 30 days after the season closes



FWC Facts:
License fees for hunting and fishing (both freshwater and saltwater) are set by the Florida Legislature and are subject to change, along with stipulations on exemptions.

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