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Home > Resources & Publications > Newsletters & Magazines > Chenier Ecology > 2010 > 11-10

Resources & Publications:  Chenier Ecology

November 2010

Sand Trout or Silver Trout

Louisiana’s coastal waters are blessed with a myriad of fish species. In estuaries across the state, anglers catch many members of the drum or sciaenid family, such as red drum, black drum, spotted sea trout and what many call sand trout or white trout. There is a little bit of confusion when dealing with the latter two, since the terms are used interchangeably to describe sand trout, Cynosc ion arenarius, and silver trout, Cynoscion nothus.

Sand trout, Cynoscion arenarius, is also commonly called white trout and is frequently found throughout the Gulf from the slightly brackish upper reaches of estuaries out to waters of 300 feet. Deep Gulf waters are where the larger brood fish congregate to spawn. Anglers often find these spawning schools of 2- to 5-pound fish offshore at oil and gas platforms. Most of the fish found in inland waters are less than 1 pound. The easiest way to distinguish the sand trout from its cousin, the silver trout, is the sand trout will have a yellowish tint to its upper body and its fins are yellow. The silver trout, Cynoscion nothus , is entirely silvery white with no yellow coloration on its upper body or fins. It is found throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico in estuaries as well as out to depths of 100 feet.

Both species can be found in Louisiana’s inland bays and lakes, and they are commonly taken by anglers along with spotted sea trout. Generally, the sand trout and silver trout will inhabit deeper waters such as ship channels, turn basins or deep holes. They both feed heavily on shrimp and small fish.

Whether you call them sand trout, silver trout or white trout, they both make good table fare. However, extra care is needed when handling these fish in the field and during processing. They have a very delicate flesh and gets soft quickly when not iced properly. So, the recommendation is to ice the fish as soon as you catch them and clean them as soon as you can, keeping the fillets on ice or in a refrigerator until ready to cook. Freezing is a last resort for these fish as they tend to get mushy upon thawing.

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