The Atlantic Spadefish, sometimes mistaken for an Angelfish, is a delicious and interesting catch typically found near the east coast of the United States. Though they’re rather common, bringing one in tends to present quite the task for anglers of all experience levels. We’ve provided a couple of useful tips and tricks to make the Atlantic Spadefish much easier to catch.
Where to Find an Atlantic Spadefish
The Atlantic Spadefish, as the name implies, is native to Atlantic waters. They are most commonly associated with the east coast of the United States, specifically the southern states. Though they are most plentiful in the southeastern regions, it’s still quite common to find multiple schools of them in northern coastal areas. The Atlantic Spadefish often resembles that of an angelfish and is quite often mistaken for one.
Juvenile Atlantic Spadefish tend to stick closer to shore and can often be spotted in more shallow waters and might even be accessible from the beach or a pier. If you’re hoping to catch a young Atlantic Spadefish, the best places to look would be around the pier or underwater structures. The Atlantic Spadefish as a species tends to prefer this close proximity structure and will often utilize it as their protection, especially the juveniles.
If you’re hoping to catch the adult Atlantic Spadefish, you’ll need to turn your attention towards slightly deeper waters. The species prefers shallower waters and you likely won’t have to trek out to an offshore location to find them, but the adults will be around reefs and wrecks. These are still underwater structures and mimic the idea of hiding and protection that the younger Spadefish seek out with piers. Stick to the Atlantic east coast and look for underwater structures to find your Atlantic Spadefish.
Learn more about the fishing regulations for the Atlantic Spadefish at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
How to Catch an Atlantic Spadefish
Catching the Atlantic Spadefish can be a difficult yet rewarding experience. They’re decently common to encounter if you’re in the right location, but getting them to catch on to your line can be a tough task. When searching for the adult Atlantic Spadefish, you’ll probably need a boat to get you within fishing distance of a school of these fish. Search for any reefs or underwater wrecks to better your chances of finding a stray Spadefish.
Once you’ve located a wreck, keep an eye out for any near-surface adults. After locating one, you can cast out your line near where you spotted the Atlantic Spadefish. You’ll want to go much deeper than just the surface of your location as this will grab the attention of more fish unseen. Atlantic Spadefish tend to swim in schools around reefs or wrecks so if you find one, chances are there are more below. Slowly pull your line back up and hopefully you’ll have a couple fish on your line.
If you’re seeking out the juvenile Atlantic Spadefish, you’re going to need to stick close to the piers as this is their favorite location to congregate. Young Spadefish hang in large groups around the piling of piers just off the shore line. Simply lower your line close to a piling and begin fishing at different depths. Eventually, you’ll encounter a young Atlantic Spadefish and you might even catch it! You’ll need to do this relatively soon after their hatching season because they won’t be around the piers for too long.
Best Bait for Atlantic Spadefish
The Atlantic Spadefish tends to prefer the smaller fish local to where they are. This means any jellyfish, shrimp, or clams are a good idea to bring along as bait. The most popular fair among the Spadefish is probably shrimp as it seems to be plentiful in these areas and has the most success for anglers fishing for the Atlantic Spadefish. Ball jellyfish is also a fantastic bait option that will net you a decent amount of fish.
Keep in mind that the Atlantic Spadefish has a relatively small mouth and likely won’t be able to go for fish that are too large. For most fish, live bait is the best fair, but for the Atlantic Spadefish, you might want to cut up the bait into more manageable pieces. The smaller the bite, the more like you are to have the Spadefish hook on your line rather than simply running away with the bait. Keep the bait to no more than a dime in size.
Some Atlantic Spadefish might go for an artificial worm or other form of bait, but the best way to raise your chances is to keep it fresh. Use fresh bait that would be caught from these waters. If you have the opportunity, the best bait to use is bait that you caught from this spot. If you can use a freshly caught bait fish from this area, you’re more likely to find success in bringing in an Atlantic Spadefish.
Best Line & Tackle for Atlantic Spadefish
The Atlantic Spadefish might not be the largest fish you’re going to encounter today, but it sure does have some strength behind it. It’s 10 lbs of energy and can easily tear your line if you’re not prepared so it’s important to bring the right strength line. We recommend at least a 15-lb test line and a 30-lb leader attached to that. This will give you the strength you need to keep your line intact while you continue to fish the waters.
Mouth size is another important feature to consider when setting up your rig. The Atlantic Spadefish has a relatively small mouth and can’t take a hook too large. If your hook is too big, chances are you won’t catch any Spadefish, you’ll just lose all of your bait. The idea hook size for the Atlantic Spadefish would be a 1/0 hook and cut up chunks of whatever bait you’re using.
Fishing for the Atlantic Spadefish doesn’t have to be difficult. By simply knowing where they’re located, preparing with the proper setup, and using the best bait, you can easily lure in and catch one of these fish. Make the Atlantic Spadefish part of your catalog of catches.
Learn about catching other types of fish: How to Catch a Triggerfish