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Spanish Mackerel

Scomberomorous maculatus

Appearance

Illustration of a Spanish mackerel showing important characteristics
  • Back is bluish-green, fading to silvery sides and belly
  • Irregular golden-yellow spots on sides
  • Bluish-black blotch on front of first dorsal fin
  • Lateral line slopes gently from behind the gill cover to the tail

Similar Species: Cero, S. regalis (has yellowish stripe on sides); and king mackerel, S. cavalla (lateral line drops sharply below second dorsal fin) 

Size: Up to 36 inches 

Habitat

Prevalent throughout Florida waters: inshore, offshore and nearshore. Frequently found over grass beds and reefs. Absent from north Florida waters in winter.

Behavior

Schooling fish that migrates northward in spring, returning to southerly waters when water temperature drops below 70 degrees F.  Spawn offshore from spring through summer.

Feeds on small fishes and invertebrates.

Additional Information

State Record: 12 lb, caught near Ft. Pierce

Recreational Regulations

Fishing tips:

Spanish mackerel are aggressive feeders that will strike a wide variety of natural and artificial baits, so they can be very easy to catch. Many anglers identify the location of Spanish mackerel by trolling or watching for birds diving on schools of baitfish, which often indicates that mackerel are forcing the bait to the surface. Angling techniques include trolling or casting with small shiny spoons, dusters or jigs. Light spinning or bait-casting tackle with 10 to 15 pound monofilament line is adequate; however, 30 to 60 pound monofilament leader is required due to the mackerel’s razor sharp teeth.