Diablo, Panama (PA)
The atlantic Spanish mackerel have a green dorsal area with silver sides and underside. Their scales are extremely small. Spanish mackerel have yellow or greenish spots all over their body, which sets them apart from cero mackerel (Scomberomorus regalis), who instead have yellow streaks on their side. Atlantic Spanish mackerel are smaller than king mackerel and are missing a partial streak that the king mackerel have. Spanish mackerel grow up to 13 pounds (6kg) and live up to 12 years old. They begin to breed at the age of two.
Another smililar species is the king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) who have a lateral line that takes an abrupt drop at mid-body; In contrast that of the Spanish mackerel and cero mackerel curves gently from the top edge of the gill to the tail.
In the Indo-Pacific waters the Spanish mackerel variety is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson) who have a banded pattern, narrow dark blue or black bars running vertically along the body. Narrow-barred Spanish mackrel can grow up to about 2.4 m and more than 40 kg.
They generally prey on smaller fish such as herring, menhaden, mullet, anchovies and sardines. They’re the prey of dolphins, sharks, and larger fish such as marlin.
Spanish mackerel are found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, generally off the eastern coast of the United States. They generally stay close to the surface of the water and are known to trap schools of baitfish against the surface of the water.
Spanish mackerel can be caught anywhere in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or along the Atlantic coast of the United States, although they’ll only be found as far north as New York and southern Canada around June.
The Indo-Pacific Narrow-barred Spanish mackerel scomberomorus commerson live throughout the Indo-West Pacific region, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical waters of in Southeast Asia. In Western Australia, they’re found from Cape Leeuwin northwards to the Northern Territory border. Other destinations to fish for Narrow-barred Spanish mackerel include Australia and New Zealand.
Spanish mackerel should be caught on 12-20-pound line with a 30-40-pound fluorocarbon leader. They can be caught on minnows, mullet, greenback or cut bait like squid or live or dead shrimp. They can be caught on lures such as spoons, jig heads, or metal lures. For lures, you should stick with something flashy that can be lured rapidly.
If you’re fishing from the surf instead of on a boat, you should choose bait that looks like whatever the mackerel are hunting in that area, and about as long as a pencil. They can be found in shallower water when the surf is smooth and beyond the second bar line in rougher surf.
Spanish mackerel are not only edible, but they’re also one of the best fish to eat. They are rich in Omega-3s making them a healthy source of fatty acids and can be baked, broiled, steamed, smoked, or fried. They are easy to filet and prepare.
It’s required to have a permit to harvest Spanish mackerel in American waters. Annual catch regulations are changed each year. The minimum size is 12 inches to keep. The number allowed to be kept per day or trip is generally 15, although this can vary with individual state regulations.
Regulations vary by location, so make sure to stay up to date with the regulations in your area of fishing if you plan on fishing without a charter.
G&T Fishing School & Charters
Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland (AUS)
Captain Ted Nesti Fishing Charter
Saint Petersburg, Florida (USA)