What is the Difference Between a Speckled Freshwater Trout and a Speckled Sea Trout?
By Doc Trout
The other day, someone asked me what the difference is between a Speckled Freshwater Trout and a Speckled or Spotted Seat Trout? The short answer to this question is that a Speckled Freshwater Trout is a subspecies of the Char genus that is endemic to the southern Appalachian Mountains whereas, the Speckled or Spotted Sea Trout is a member of the Drum family. Therefore, a Speckled Sea Trout is not actually a Trout at all even though its name implies that it is.
Speckled Freshwater Trout - Salmoninae Salvelinus fontinali (Char):
The Speckled Trout, Salvenus fontinalis, is a species of fish in the Salmon family of order Salmoninformes. Also, in many parts of its range, the Speckled Trout is known locally as a "Speck" or a "Squaretail" due to some slight anatomical differences from other Salmoninformes. In addition, there is a potamodromous population of these Char in Lake Superior that is known locally as Coaster Trout or simply as Coasters. Therefore, although a Speckled Trout is commonly called a Trout, it is not actually a trout but is a Char (Salvelinus fontinali) instead; along with Lake Trout, Bull Trout, Dolly Varden Trout, and the Arctic Char. Thus a Char differs from a Trout in that they are members of the same family but are from a different genus and species.
Speckled or Spotted Sea Trout - Sciaendiae Cynoscion nebulosus (Drum):
The Spotted Sea Trout, which is also known as a Speckled Sea Trout or Spotted Weakfish (Cynoscion nebulosus) is a common estuary fish found along the coast of the southern United States. While these fish are most often caught on shallow, grassy flats, they tend reside in almost any type of inshore water ranging from the surf zone to far up coastal rivers; where they often congregate for shelter during the colder months of the year. But, unlike the Speckled Freshwater Trout, the Spotted Sea Trout is not a member of the Salmon family (Salmonindae) and instead, it is a member of the of the Drum family (Sciaenidae). In addition, Speckled Sea Trout differ anatomically in that they have prominent canine teeth and are dark black in color with grey or silvery sides that are marked with scattered, black, oscillating, spots of varying sizes. In addition, plain black spots are also displayed on the dorsal and tail fins and, in stained water, this fish's background may take on a golden hue. Thus, this fish's shape and coloration often reminds anglers of a Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) and hence the name Sea Trout.