Atlantic Spadefish

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The spadefish is a wide-ranging species in the western Atlantic.


The Atlantic spadefish is a disk-shaped, silvery fish with about four or five black, irregular bands on its sides that fade with age. The spiny and soft parts of the dorsal fins are nearly separated and the soft front lobes of the soft dorsal and anal fins are prolonged into filaments.


The spadefish is known to occur from the northeast United States to Brazil and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. It is abundant in shallow coastal waters in the warm temperate parts of its range. Adult spadefish often occur in very large schools of up to 500 individuals in association with submerged objects such as wrecks. Juvenile spadefish are common in estuaries and are often found in very shallow water swimming at an angle resembling dead leaves. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish:

Backflow                                        Bays and Estuaries                                    Birds

Channel Entrances                     Coastal Waters                                          Deep Shore Water

Floating Foam and Debris       Jetties and Breakwaters                         Merging Water

Man-Made Structures                             Rocky Sea Floor                                         Schools

Reefs, Wrecks and Shoals                       Ripples, Currents, Swirls and Sprays


Spadefish are strong fighters, but tough to hook at times because of their small mouths and finicky nature. Chumming with frozen chopped clams in a weighted wire basket is an excellent way to draw spadefish to a boat. Once to the boat, the real secret of catching spadefish is selecting a hook with small enough dimensions to enable them to be hooked. Clam strips, which resemble one of their favorite foods, jelly fish tentacles, make effective baits but they can also be taken in the chum-line by presenting a fly. Experienced spadefish anglers have discovered that unlike many fish, they tend to bite best on a slack tide. The following list includes common methods and techniques used to catch the Atlantic spadefish: The following are fishing methods used to catch this fish:

Jigging                                            Drift Fishing                                  Fly Fishing

Bait Casting                                  Chumming                                    Surf Casting

Still Fishing                                   Spin Casting