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Pan Fried Spots Recipe

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to pan fry Spots in your kitchen. Spots are a popular fish you know. Printable recipe included.

Spots are a very popular fish here in the South. Most of the time they are fried whole, but you could fillet them if you wanted to avoid dealing with the small bones. Quick and easy… and delicious.

In case you’re not familiar with them, Spots are a small salt water fish. They usually weigh half a pound or less, and are about the size of your hand or smaller. They have a large black “spot” near their gill opening and 12 to 15 dark angled bars across their backs.

When you hear someone say, “The spots are running.” it means it’s time to load up the family and head to the nearest pier along the coast for some good fishing fun. Spots travel in schools and are fairly easy to catch. Almost 3 million of these small panfish are caught each year as they travel along the coast headed for Gulf waters for the winter.

Many years back, my cousin Audrey and her family would rush to the coast to catch a bunch of these small fish when they heard they were running, and they were usually pretty successful with it.

Audrey would always bring some of her fish up to Mama’s house where Mama and my sister Marie would quickly set about cleaning or “dressing” the fish as it’s called. That means they removed the scales from the fish and cleaned out it’s insides. The heads were usually cut off but not the tails.

It was going to be a good day when Mama or Marie would call me and say the fish would be ready in a couple of hours. I knew I was going to have a great lunch or dinner when that happened.

It might not happen but once or twice a year, but we sure did enjoy those fresh caught Spots. Mama would make Cole Slaw, fry up some French Fries, and Marie would make a big plate of Hoe Cakes. Sweet Tea was always on the table too.

We’d sit and eat until we just couldn’t eat any more. They were so good and I have many memories of those meals at Mama’s house over the years. Wish you could have been there with us.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!

Pan Fried Spots – You’ll need these ingredients.

Fresh fish are always best, but when you can’t get them, frozen will be good too. I bought a couple of packages of dressed Spots from our local fish monger.

Place 2 cups of Self-Rising Flour in a large mixing bowl.

You could also use All-Purpose Flour if that’s all you have on hand. It will work too.

Add 1 cup of Cornmeal to the flour.

Add 1 teaspoon of Salt.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of Black Pepper.

Whisk all the dry ingredients together.

Rinse the dressed fish under some cold running water.

Be sure to rinse the inside as well.

Place the fish in your flour breader. Coat the fish with flour on both sides.

Add a bit of the flour to the inside.

Shake off any excess flour. You don’t want a lot of excess flour going into your skillet. It will just sink to the bottom of the oil and burn, causing your fish to have a bad taste.

Place about an inch of oil in your cast iron skillet. Place the skillet over Medium heat on your stove top and let the oil come up to about 350F degrees for frying. Carefully lower the fish into the hot oil.

Don’t crowd the pan. Spots are pretty small, so I was able to get three of them in my skillet at one time.

Let the Spots fry for about three minutes then flip them over. Fry them three minutes longer on the other side. They should be done at this point.

Remove from the oil and place the fish on parchment paper or a wire rack to cool and drain.


Cole Slaw, French Fries and Hoecakes were always on the menu when Mama and my sister cooked these. That was some mighty good eating for sure. Smile.

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