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Other names for the Northern kingfish include king whiting, sea mullet, northern whiting, roundhead, sea mink, minkfish, whiting and barb.

Northern kingfish are part of the drum family, Sciaenidae, which also includes weakfish, spot, Atlantic croaker, red drum and black drum. Since they lack an air bladder, Northern kingfish do notmake typical "drumming" sounds like other members of the drum family, but they can vocalize somewhat by grinding their pharyngeal (throat) teeth.

Notable characteristics are the long spine on the first dorsal fin and a barbel on the chin. Dark, irregular bars are present along the body of the fish. The first two bars form two distinct V-shapes. The bold markings and a dark longitudinal stripe behind the pectoral fins distinguish it from the two other species of kingfish. The markings on Southern kingfish and Gulf kingfish are not nearly as prominent and do not form the V-shaped pattern.

Northern kingfish are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Maine to Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Yucatan. They are most commonly found from the Chesapeake Bay to New York.

Usually found in schools in shallow coastal waters, Northern kingfish prefer areas with a hard or a sandy bottom. They regularly appear along the Atlantic coast from late April to October. It is unknown where Northern kingfish migrate for the winter, but it is thought to be offshore and in deeper water.

Northern kingfish can grow 18 inches long and can weigh up to three pounds, but greater lengths and weights have been reported. Commonly, these fish range from 10 to 14 inches long and weigh from one-half to 1.5 pounds.

Spot occur along the U.S. Atlantic coast in estuarine and coastal waters from Chesapeake Bay south to South Carolina. Spot migrate seasonally, entering bays and estuaries in the spring, where they remain until late summer or fall when they move offshore to spawn. Spot are opportunistic bottom feeders, eating mainly worms, small crustaceans and mollusks, as well as organic material.

Predators such as striped bass, weakfish, summer flounder, bluefish, and sharks eat them in turn.

Spot are caught from shore or by private or rental boats rather than by party or charter boats.
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