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State Speckled (Spotted) Trout Laws, Size, and Bag Limits

Florida speckled trout identification image.
Florida Speckled Trout.

Speckled Trout Bag Limits and Laws In the United States

[Page updated 15 January 2021]

Speckled trout (Cynoscion nebulosus) are fun fish to catch and are not hard fish to target and find in Florida waters. You’ll find them in shallow water especially in grass flats where they like to ambush small fish and shrimp. Free-lining a shrimp or small pinfish can get you a full stringer of speckled trout in a short time. Their flesh is soft and great tasting. States have their own speckled trout laws, and we cover them below. If you are aware of an update we don’t have listed – please let us know.

MORE SPECKLED TROUT INFO Pages

Follow the guidelines below to learn How Many Trout Can you Keep?

How To Measure a Speckled Trout to Stay Within the Law:

  1. Stretch the trout along the ground or flat surface and close the jaw.
  2. Squeeze the tail together vertically.
  3. Measure a very straight line from the tip of the snout to the furthest part of the tail as you hold it scrunched up. This is called a TOTAL LENGTH measurement vs. a FORK LENGTH where you’d measure other fish with forked tails to the shortest part of the fork.
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Alabama State Speckled (Spotted) Trout Fishing Laws

Alabama has a number of saltwater fishing license restrictions and guidelines. Below is some basic information about saltwater fishing licenses in the state that would allow you to catch and keep speckled trout. If you’d like to enquire about special licenses or exemptions, see this page.

Alabama Saltwater Fishing License Information.

Daily Limit: 6

Minimum size: 15″ to 22″ with one fish over 22″ per day allowed.

Official Source: http://www.outdooralabama.com/creel-and-size-limits

Date of this regulation: August 1, 2019. It may have been superseded, but we cannot find newer information.

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Florida State Speckled Trout Laws

Get a Florida State Saltwater Fishing License here.

Florida Speckled Trout are CATCH-AND-RELEASE ONLY until May 31, 2021 in both state and federal Florida waters on Florida’s West Coast in the following areas (see map). NO TROUT MAY BE KEPT WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THIS AREA. This is due to protective measures being enacted after an extended red-tide presence on Florida’s West Coast.

Florida Speckled Trout map showing legal limits for Catch-and-Release fishing only for this species of fish (and snook and red drum).
No Speckled Trout may be kept in this red area of Florida until after May 31, 2021. This may again change in the next few months. Come back here to see changes.

It is something of a nightmare to figure out when and how many speckled trout you can keep in Florida. The regulations change throughout the state.

Florida Speckled Trout Bag Limits and Seasons

Speckled Trout may only be taken with Hook and Line or Cast Net. Taking trout by any other means like gigging, spearing or snatching is prohibited in the State of Florida.

Western Panhandle:

The exact area covered is in Escambia County extending into Gulf County west of 85° 13.76″ Longitude but not including Indian Pass or Indian Lagoon. See the map below for clarification.

Florida panhandle map showing area of Escambia county where speckled trout may be caught.
Western Panhandle map showing Escambia County where speckled trout may be caught.

Daily Limit: 3 per angler per day.

Minimum Size: Legal anglers may keep trout over 15″ and less than 19″ only. One of these fish may be over 19″ per vessel (boat) per day. Not per angler, per boat. What if you’re fishing without a boat? Great question. We’ll get clarification on that.

Trout Season: Open year round except closed all of February.

Big Bend

Daily Limit: 5 per angler.

Minimum Size: 15″ to 19″ only. One fish over 19″ per boat per day is allowed.

Trout Season: Open all year. Except from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County, which are catch-and-release through May 31, 2021.

South

Daily Limit: 3

Minimum Size: 15″ to 19″ only. One fish over 19″ allowed per boat per day.

Trout Season: Open year round except from the Hernando/Pasco county line south through Gordon Pass in Collier County, which are catch-and-release through May 31, 2021.

KEY BISCAYNE – These additional rules pertain to fishing in Key Biscayne National Park in the Florida Keys. You should know them whether you’re fishing there or will be passing through.

Central East

Palm Beach through Volusia Counties.

Daily Limit: 2

Minimum Size: 15″ to 19″ with one fish over 19″ allowed per boat per day.

Trout Season: Closed only November 1 through December 31, 2020.

Northeast: Flagler through Nassau Counties

Daily Limit: 5

Minimum Size: 15″ to 19″ with one fish over 19″ allowed per boat per day.

Trout Season: Open all year.

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Georgia State Speckled (Spotted) Trout Laws

Georgia Department of Natural Resources offers saltwater fishing licenses here. They call saltwater fish “finfish.”

Daily Limit: 15

Minimum size: 14″ Total Length – squeeze tail and measure.

Spotted Trout Season: Open all year.

For federal guidelines about fishing more than 3 miles off the Georgia coast, see this website.

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Louisiana State Speckled Trout (Spotted Seatrout) Laws

Anglers must possess a saltwater fishing license when fishing below the saltwater line (all seatrout fisherman best be safe to get the saltwater license). You can order licenses online here.

Daily Limit: 25 per person per day except in specified areas of Cameron and Calcasieu parishes where the limit is 15 per person per day with no more than two over 25 inches total length.

The areas are (and no map is provided!): South of Interstate 10 from its junction at the Texas-Louisiana boundary eastward to its junction with LA Highway 171, south to Highway 14, south to Holmwood, and then south on Highway 27 through Gibbstown south to LA Highway 82 at Creole and south on Highway 82 to Oak Grove, then due south to the western shore of the Mermentau River, following this shoreline south to the junction with the Gulf of Mexico, and then due south to the limit of the state territorial sea.

Minimum size: 12″

Spotted Seatrout Season: Open year-round.

Link to State of Louisiana Redfish Laws online – www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/recreational/saltwater/regulations/

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Mississippi State Redfish Laws

Mississippi makes it real easy with their limits, but doesn’t even state any seasonal limitations. Are we to assume that all fish are open season for the entire year?

Mississippi Saltwater Fishing License requirements chart.

Daily Limit: 15

Minimum size: 15″ total length (from snout to bunched up tail.)

Spotted Trout Season: Open all year until we hear differently. Nothing regarding this on their official site.

Download Mississippi Guide to Saltwater Fishing PDF here.

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North Carolina State Redfish Laws

A recreational coastal fishing license is required for saltwater fishing. Purchase online here.

Daily Limit: 4

Minimum size: 14″

Spotted Trout Season: Open all year in North Carolina and federal waters.

Official North Carolina Saltwater fishing regulations: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-fishing-size-and-bag-limits

Download PDF covering all saltwater fish regulations for North Carolina here.

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South Carolina State Spotted Trout Laws

South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License Information is here. For your convenience, a chart showing the basic saltwater licensing requirements is below.

South Carolina saltwater fishing requirements chart.
South Carolina Saltwater fishing requirements.

Daily Limit: 10

Minimum size: 14″

Spotted Trout Season: Open all year in South Carolina State waters.

Note: Taking trout by gigging, and rod and reel are legal. Gigging is prohibited from December 1 to February 28 each year.

See other South Carolina State Saltwater Fishing Regulations here.

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Texas State Spotted Trout Laws

Saltwater fishing license information can be found in this chart and the link below.

Texas State Saltwater Fishing License information.
Texas saltwater fishing license information.

Information here – https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/fishing-licenses-stamps-tags-packages

Daily Limit: 5

Minimum size: 15″ to 25″

Spotted Trout Season: Open year-round.

Note: During a license year, one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be kept when tagged with a completed Red Drum Tag. One red drum over 28″ may be kept when affixed with a properly completed Bonus Red Drum Tag. Any fish retained under authority of a Red Drum Tag or a Bonus Red Drum Tag may be retained in addition to the daily bag and possession limit as stated in this section.

State of Texas Redfish Laws Page – https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/fishing/saltwater-fishing/saltwater-bag-and-length-limits

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Virginia State Spotted Trout Laws

A saltwater fishing license for Virginia is necessary. There is information here about saltwater fishing license requirements.

Daily Limit: 3

Minimum size: 14″

Spotted Trout Season: Open all year.


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Image Credits: Top image from MYFWC.com, ©Diane Peebles.