Weakfish (Cynoscion regalis)

The weakfish is a member of the Sciaenidae family (drum and croaker), and its name refers to the tender, easily torn membrane in the fish's mouth.

Other Names

squeteague, common weakfish, northern weakfish, common seatrout, northern seatrout, gray trout, summer trout, tiderunner, yellowfin, weakie; French: acoupa royal; Portuguese: pescadaamarela; Spanish: corvinata real.

Identification

The body of weakfish is slim and shaped somewhat like a trout's. The lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw. There are two large, protruding canine teeth in the upper jaw and no chin barbels.

Its coloring is dark olive or greenish to greenish-blue on the dorsal surface and blue, green, purple, and lavender with a golden tinge on the sides. Numerous small black spots speckle the top, occasionally forming wavy diagonal lines. There is sometimes a black margin on the tip of the tongue.

The weakfish is distinguished from the closely related spotted seatrout because its spots do not extend onto the tail or the second dorsal fin and are not as widely spaced. The scales also do not extend onto the fins on the weakfish.

Size/Age

In southerly waters, weakfish average 1 to 4 pounds. In the upper mid-Atlantic, they typically weigh 4 to 7 pounds. The all-tackle record is 19 pounds, 2 ounces, and the maximum possible growth is believed to be higher. The average life span is roughly 10 years, but some reportedly live twice that long.

Life history/Behavior

Mature weakfish are 3 to 4 years old. Spawning occurs in the nearshore and estuarine zones along the coast from May through October. A schooling species, weakfish migrate northward in the spring, spending the summer inshore, then moving southward again in the late autumn.

Food and feeding habits

Weakfish feed on crabs, shrimp, other crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as on herring, menhaden, silversides, killifish, and butterfish. Because of their varied diet, weakfish forage at different levels and adapt to local food conditions.

Distribution

Weakfish inhabit the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Massachusetts, and records show isolated populations occurring as far north as Nova Scotia. They are most abundant from North Carolina to Florida in the winter and from Delaware to New York in the summer.

Habitat

Preferring sandy and sometimes grassy bottoms, weakfish are usually found in shallow waters along shores and in large bays and estuaries, including salt marsh creeks and sometimes into river mouths, although they do not enter freshwater. They can be found in depths of up to 55 fathoms in the winter.
Related Posts with Thumbnails