AKA: yellow belly

Description: The body is short and grayishsilver with golden reflections along the upper sides. Between 12 and 15 wavy dark lines run from the dorsal fins to below the lateral line. A prominent black spot, about the same size as the eye, is located behind the gill cover. In the fall, spot have bright yellow stomachs, a trait likely associated with spawning.

Size: Spot grow to 14 inches, but typical catches range from 7 inches to 10 inches.

Sometimes confused with: juvenile Atlantic croaker, silver perch

Habitat: Spot inhabit estuarine and coastal waters from the Gulf of Maine to Mexico, but they are most abundant from Delaware Bay to Georgia in the summer and fall. Spot tend to occur in sandy or muddy shallow waters during the summer then move offshore to the continental shelf edge in the winter.

Eating habits: Spot feed on crustaceans, organic debris, worms and small fish.

Life cycle: Spot reach sexual maturity between ages 2 and 3 and spawn at sea in the fall and winter. Spot eggs hatch in early spring and are carried to estuarine nursery grounds by water currents. The fish grow rapidly and juveniles stay in the estuarine waters throughout the year. As they grow, the fish move into deeper, higher-salinity waters. As autumn and spawning season draws near, larger spot move into the nearshore ocean.

Fishing tips: Spot concentrate in large schools nearshore. Anglers catch spot from piers, bridges, jetties, the surf and small boats, usually with two-hook bottom rigs baited with shrimp, bloodworms or squid. Recreational anglers catch more spot in North Carolina than any other species.

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

Award for harvest of fish, 1 pound or larger.

See the list of weigh stations


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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