South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Spadefish

Spadefish

Spadefish

Chaetodipterus faber
Recreational
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Commercial
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

Spadefish are usually identified by their deep and laterally compressed bodies, small mouths, blunt heads and pointed dorsal and anal fins. Adults are silver gray with three to six prominent black vertical bars along the sides. The first bar passes through the eye, and the last is on the caudal peduncle. Juvenile Spadefish are usually black and are frequently misidentified.

Atlantic spadefish are found schooling near coastal reefs, wrecks and pilings from New England to southern Brazil, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Large spawning aggregations occur in the summer, although there is little information on the size of mature adults. The spadefish has been described as one of the most generalized reef fish in its food habits. The species feeds on plants, sponges, worms, crab and lobster found on reefs, bottom surfaces, mid-depths or at the surface.

Regulations

NC, SC, GA, FL

  • Season is currently open.
  • 20 Aggregate Limit
  • 10 Bag Limit
  • Notes: A descending device is required on board all vessels fishing for or possessing snapper and grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic. The descending device must be readily available for use and attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line. Get more information at Best Fishing Practices Webpage

    Must be landed with head and fins intact.

    If you are bringing fish back to the U.S. from the Bahamas by water, please see Bringing fish back from the Bahamas.

    ———- Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats:

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species.

    -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information, see: Atlantic Spadefish Regulations

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

  • Gear Description: Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers. When fishing for or possessing snapper grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic, the following regulations apply: (1) Use of a dehooking tool is required. (2) The use of non-stainless steel hooks is required when using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. In waters North of 28-degrees N. latitude, the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when fishing for snapper grouper species using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. (3) A descending device is required on board all vessels and must be readily available for use (attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line). See below for more details.

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