How to Cook Spot Fish

Grilled fish with lemon in pan , horizontal top view closeup


With it's small size and mild texture, spot fish can be cooked in a variety of ways. This small panfish is found primarily in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Because of their size, spot fish are typically prepared whole, which often means you'll need to scale and gut the spot fish first regardless of how you end up cooking it. Once they're cleaned, you can pan-fry, grill or roast this simple fish, adding seasonings and garnish to your taste.


Rinse each fish well and place on a clean cutting board. Make two or three slits on both sides of each fish and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine cornmeal with salt, pepper and any additional seasoning you prefer in a shallow bowl.

Fill a large skillet with 1/2 to 1 inch of vegetable or canola oil and heat to medium-high.

Dredge each spot fish through the cornmeal, turning over to coat both sides well.

Place the cornmeal-crusted spot fish into the hot oil and let fry for about 5 minutes per side, or until the cornmeal is golden brown and crispy and the fish has reached an internal temperature of at least 145F. Use a meat thermometer to determine the temperature. Serve hot.


Prepare your grill by filling the bottom with charcoal, if you are using a charcoal grill, and brushing the grill grate lightly with oil. Bring the grill to a medium-high heat.

Make a few slits into the spot fish on either side, and season with salt and pepper as you see fit.

Add the spot fish to the hot grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until the skin is slightly charred, the flesh is firm and it is cooked to 145F. Serve hot off the grill.

Roasted Spot Fish

Preheat the oven to 450 F and place a wire rack on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Brush the fish lightly with olive oil and both sides, then season with salt, pepper and any additional seasonings. You can also choose to bread them in seasoned cornmeal.

Place the fish on the wire rack and put in the oven to roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the flesh is firm and the internal temperature has reached 145F. Serve hot.