Cynoscion Arenaris

sandy_0By Ed Snyder/Outdoors
With a scientific name like Cynoscion arenarius, with arenarius meaning “sandy”, you’d wonder why so many anglers fish for such a critter. But Sand Trout is the tag by which Texas coastal anglers know them. Marine Biologists refer to them as “sand sea-trout”, but most Texans just call them “sandies”. These spotless, silvery fish, cousins to the spotted sea-trout (Speck) and Gulf Trout (Silver Trout), are a favorite catch for those who like to box up as many as they want without worry of being fined by Game Wardens.

Sand Trout can be found in bays, surf, and passes

Sand Trout can be found in bays, surf, and passes

Presently Texas rules and regs have no size or creel limits on these fish. Sand trout have just about all the traits of a sportfish, such as speckled sea-trout, but are seen as a sub species listed as a panfish. Being plentiful and aggressive, sandies normally are clustered into schools making them easy prey for predators and anglers alike.

Found in bays, passes, and along sandy shorelines, that put these fish within easy reach of pier and bank anglers, the sand trout fast became the favorite catch by those anglers who choose to fish without the extremes that speck anglers enjoy. Almost any tackle will do for these silvery critters that seldom reach the poundage of the heavy weights specks reach. From one half pound to 1 lb are average with some reaching 2 lbs. The Texas state record is 6.5 lbs.

Spin cast, bait cast, bamboo pole, or even hand line tackle will put you within reach of catching sand trout. Favorite baits will always be the shrimp (live or dead) but I found that after catching one sandy, cut it up into half inch chunks (skin on) then hook thru the skin leaving the barb out. Sandies are cannibalistic and will eat the flesh of their own. I’ve caught 100s and even maybe thousands of sandies AND Gulf trout in this way. LOTS OF FUN FOLKS, but even though there is no limits on these fish, be conservative and keep only what you plan to eat soon. Another item of interest is to put them in a cooler immediately after catching them, because putting them on a stringer only stresses them out causing them to emit an ammonia like taste. Being stored in a cooler of ice will keep that from happening.

Kayak anglers enjoy sand trout due their aggressive nature

Kayak anglers enjoy sand trout due their aggressive nature

Sandy flesh doesn’t keep well and will become mushy within only a day or two. So keep them for fish fries that are planned for within a day or two, with sooner being better. Storing them for over a day my suggestion would be to add a teaspoon of Real Lemon juice to your baggie of filets which adds to the flavor keeping the flesh firm and tasty.

Regular double drop fishing rigs will work here folks, with enough weight to keep it snugged on the bottom, then use #6 gold Aberdeen hooks. The double drop with hooks will enable you to possibly catch two at a time, and the Aberdeen wire hooks can be pulled loose of most snags. The Aberdeen, if straightened, can be easily bent back into fishing shape.

Feeding sand trout attract feeding birds

Feeding sand trout attract feeding birds

This is fun fishing at its best when locating schools of these silvery sand trout. They are a great for getting kids started on the how-to of fishing. Kids, in general, have limited attention grabbers, but when they start hooking up with fish after fish they’ll learn quickly to enjoy what’s happening around them and will focus all their attention on having fun.

There are many ways to enjoy these fish on the table and the following recipes are some of my favorites:

1 cup fresh basil; 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley; 1 large garlic clove tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 1 tablespoon water; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; 4 (6-8 oz) sea trout, bluefish, or mackerel fillets, with skin.
Lemon wedges, Tomato gratin or potato, red pepper, and fennel salad would make a terrific accompaniment to the fish.
Preheat broiler. Finely chop basil, parsley, and garlic together in a blender. Add 3 tablespoons oil and purée, then blend in water, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. If desired, thin with more water. Arrange fillets, skin sides down, in an oiled shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Brush fish with remaining tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until just cooked through, about 7 minutes. Serve fish with sauce.

Six Trout filets. Dry Filets With paper towels. Lightly brush both sides of skinless filets with garden mustard. Coat filets in seasoned Cajun Fish Fry. Deep-fry in peanut oil until golden brown. Place filets on paper towels and allow to drain. Plate crispy filets with french fries and coleslaw, serve with favorite chilled beverage. (Mustard won’t overpower the fish but will enhance its flavor)

4 (1/2-pound) dressed sea trout; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 2 eggs, beaten; 1 cup cornmeal; 1/2 cup butter or margarine; 1/2 cup vegetable oil; Lemon slices; Remoulade Sauce.
Rinse fish thoroughly in cold water; pat dry. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Roll fish in flour; dip in egg, and dredge in cornmeal. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish, and cook until golden brown, turning once. (Fish is done when it flakes easily when tested with a fork.) Drain well on paper towels. Transfer fish to a serving platter, and garnish with lemon slices. Serve with Remoulade Sauce.

6 sand trout filets; Mixture of 50% self rising flour and 50% self rising cornmeal; 2 eggs; salt & pepper; steak fries; chopped green onions.
Mix flour and cornmeal, salt and pepper to taste. soak filets in whipped eggs, dip in flour and cornmeal; drop dredged filets in hot peanut oil until both sides are golden brown. remove from oil and drain on paper towels; add steak fries to hot oil and cook till golden brown, then drain on paper towels.
Blend whipped eggs and cornmeal/flour mix, add finely chopped green onions, mix well. Using teaspoons, fill one teaspoon with hush puppy mix, use other to drop hush puppy mix into hot oil. Repeat several times until hush puppy mix is gone. When puppies float to the surface they are done; drain on paper towels. Serve up buffet style with your favorite chilled beverage.

Download PRINTABLE COPY of Ed Snyder’s Recipes

Sand trout, so named because they always seem to school around sandy structure. One favorite means of locating them is when fishing “the birds”. This is when sea birds are spotted hovering or diving over feeding schools of speckled or sand trout. This occurs during late Spring thru Summer, but is most active during the cooler months of Autumn (Fall), this when bay waters start cooling down from heat of summer, which in turn causes bait fish and shrimp to school up as they head for deeper waters. Sand trout will then start feeding on these bait fish or shrimp. Anglers rigged with spoons, spec-rigs or shad like soft plastics will be able to take advantage of these prime situations. Even though there is no size or creel limits on sandies in Texas, be cautious on how many you take due to the limited storage time for safely keeping sand trout edible.

Again, these silvery miniatures of the trout world can, and do provide plenty of excitement for the whole family. PLUS they are darned good eating at those family fish fry’s. Try them, you’ll like them.

Info Guides; Wikipedia, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Local angler info.
Ed Snyder/ Outdoors article sponsored by Miss Nancy’s Bait Camp (FB), The Beach Triton,,

(This article published 7/27/2015)


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