skip to main content | skip to footer
North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 31 Spotted Seatrout SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

Web Content Display Web Content Display

Spotted Seatrout - If you are not seeing picture, use a browser other than Internet Explorer and try again.

Spotted Seatrout — 2016

Stock Status Viable – The 2014 North Carolina Spotted Seatrout Stock Assessment indicated that the stock in North Carolina is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The estimated spawning potential ratio (SPR) from the 2014 assessment is above the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) recommended criteria of 20% and above the divisions target of 30%. It should be noted that cold stun events appear to have a large influence on spotted seatrout population dynamics with winter cold stuns cited as a primary factor in local and coastwide periodic declines in spotted seatrout.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 – 259,171 lbs./$466,277

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – 128,762 lbs./$316,468

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – 652,235 lbs., 2015 – 148,926 lbs.

Average Number of Award Citations (5 lbs./24 inches) 2008-2015 – 241, 2015 – 176 (160 kept, 16 released; Citation weight requirement increased from 4 lbs. to 5 lbs. and a 24 inch release category was added effective 2008)

Status of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) – The N.C. Spotted Seatrout FMP (2012) is the first fishery management plan developed for spotted seatrout in North Carolina. However, spotted seatrout have been managed along the Atlantic Coast through an Interjurisdictional FMP developed by the ASMFC. The ASMFC Spotted Seatrout FMP was initially approved in 1984, and has been reviewed annually since 2001. Amendment 1, approved by the ASMFC Policy Board in 1990, developed a list of goals for coastwide management but allowed each state that had an interest in the spotted seatrout fishery (Florida through Maryland) to manage their stocks independently. North Carolina followed the recommendation of the ASMFC Spotted Seatrout FMP Amendment 1 to maintain a spawning potential ratio (SPR) of at least 20%. North Carolina’s spotted seatrout stock is considered to be overfished when the stock falls below a threshold of 20% SPR and overfishing is considered to be occurring if fishing mortality rates rise above a threshold associated with the 20% SPR. North Carolina’s management strategy is to maintain fishing mortality equivalent to a 30% SPR which will increase the likelihood of sustainability through an expanded age structure and an increase in the spawning stock biomass. Current management is under Supplement A to the 2012 N.C. Spotted Seatrout FMP which was approved in February 2014 to maintain current regulations on harvest and creel limits. The required 5-year review of the N.C. Spotted Seatrout FMP is scheduled to begin in 2017.

Research and Data Needs – Continue tagging studies to verify estimates of natural and fishing mortality, understanding stock structure, and examining migration; histological maturity; cold stun research; develop a custom model that allows for incorporation of annually and spatially variable natural mortality.

2015 Regulations – For the entirety of the 2015 fishing season, it was unlawful for a commercial fishing operation to possess spotted seatrout less than 14 inches total length or to possess more than 75 spotted seatrout per day. It was unlawful to possess more than four spotted seatrout per person per day taken commercially by hook and line in joint and coastal fishing waters of the state. It was unlawful for a commercial fishing operation to set gill nets in the joint fishing waters of the state as well as possess or sell spotted seatrout for commercial purposes from midnight on Friday to midnight on Sunday each week; the joint fishing waters of the Albemarle and Currituck Sounds were exempt from this restriction.

It was unlawful for recreational fishermen to possess spotted seatrout less than 14 inches total length, and unlawful to possess more than four spotted seatrout caught by hook and line or for recreational purposes.

Harvest Season
– Year round. Peak catches occur in the fall and winter, although May and June are also productive months.

Size and Age at Maturity – 7 to 9 inches fork length (FL)/less than 1 year
Males mature at a younger age, smaller size, and earlier in the season, than females.

Maximum Age – 12 years

Juvenile Abundance Index (number of fish per tow) 2006-2015 – Estuarine Trawl Survey (June and July) – 0.9, 2015 – 0.6

Habits and Habitats – Estuarine dependent member of the Sciaenidae family that includes kingfish, spot, croaker, red drum, black drum, and weakfish. Peak catches occur in the fall, although May and June are also productive months. North Carolina spotted seatrout have a protracted spawning season which extends from late April through early October. Juveniles are dependent on estuarine seagrass habitat as critical nursery areas. Catastrophic mortalities of spotted seatrout have been attributed to cold shock, hurricanes, excessive fresh water and red tide conditions.

For information, contact Stephen J. Poland at Steve.Poland@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8159.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

NC logo

38337 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.