Habitat Type: Freshwater
Comments: Primarily marine, but close to shore, when not breeding; migrates to rivers for spawning, moves downstream afterward (may stay upstream in winter in some northern areas).
Telemetered adults in Choctawhatchee Bay area, Florida, usually were in nearshore waters 2-4 m deep in winter and spring; individuals usually remained within small areas (which typically had sandy substrate containing benthic crustaceans and annelids) for several weeks but sometimes moved long distances (Fox et al. 2002). Most males stayed in the Bay whereas most females were in the Gulf of Mexico or could not be detected.
Juveniles spend winter and spring mainly in river mouths. In some rivers, juveniles may spend several years continuously in freshwater; in others, they may move downstream to brackish water when temperatures drop in the fall (Hoff 1980).
Spawns in fresh water (sometimes tidal) usually over bottom of hard clay, rubble, gravel, or shell. May spawn in brackish water. In the Pee Dee River, South Carolina, has been reported as spawning in relatively slow current in turbid water over substrates of sand and silt (see Gilbert 1989).