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King Mackerel

Scomberomorus cavalla


Illustration of a king mackerel showing important characteristics
  • Back is bluish-green, fading to silvery sides and belly (no spots)
  • Front of first dorsal fin lacks a dark blotch
  • Lateral line drops sharply below the second dorsal fin
  • Juveniles may have yellowish spots, similar to Spanish mackerel

Similar Species: Cero, S. regalis; Spanish mackerel, S. maculatus (both have gently sloping lateral lines and a dark blotch on front of first dorsal fin); and wahoo, A. solandri (first dorsal fin long and continuous) 

Size: Up to 72 inches 


Coastal to offshore waters. Often around piers. They may occasionally be found in deep water.



Spawn offshore in mid-summer. Schooling fish that migrate from south Florida waters in winter northward in spring. Feed mainly on fishes.

Additional Information

State Record: 90 lb, caught near Key West

Fishing Tips and Facts: Kings feed on small fish and squid and take both natural and artificial baits. Live baits include pogies, herring, Spanish sardine, ballyhoo, and mullet. Lures should be flashy sub-surface lures or large fish-like plugs. Use 20-pound line and tackle, or heavier for larger kings, with a wire or mono leader.

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles