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Spanish Mackerel

Updated on November 24, 2014

Spanish Mackerel Information

The Spanish mackerel is a beautifully colored finfish caught off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the USA.

Their slender bullet-shaped bodies are blue and silver, marked with yellowish oval shaped spots. They are fast swimming predators, known for their razor sharp teeth and keen eyesight.

Average size Spanish mackerel are around 2-3 pounds; 9-10 pounds is considered large. They are fast growing, and may live to be 8 years old.

Spanish mackerel form large, fast-moving schools, typically preferring water temperatures above 68° F. Feeding fish sometimes force schools of baitfish into tight bundles before attacking them at the surface.

The species is one of the most commonly caught species off the U.S. southeast coast where it supports important recreational and commercial fisheries.

Fishing for Spanish Mackerel

Recreational anglers catch Spanish mackerel by trolling, drifting, casting spoons and jigs and live-bait fishing.

Commercial fisheries primarily use gill nets although they are sometimes taken by trolling lures similar to those used by recreational anglers.

Spanish mackerel fisheries in federal waters are managed by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils through the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

In the Atlantic region, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council cooperate to adopt regulations for state waters that complement the regulations approved by federal management councils.

Mackerel Identification - King, Spanish, Cero

The Spanish mackerel is distinguished from cero mackerel (Scomberomorus regalis) by yellow-gold spots on its sides (versus yellow-gold streaks along the midline from pectoral fin to tail); and from king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) which has a lateral line that drops abruptly below the second dorsal fin.


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