SPANISH MACKEREL - Scomberomorus maculatus
The Atlantic Spanish mackerel is a migratory species of mackerel that swims to the northern Gulf of Mexico in spring, returns to south Florida in the eastern gulf, and to Mexico in the western gulf in the fall.
Description: Color of back green, shading to silver on sides, golden yellow
irregular spots above and below lateral line; front of dorsal fin
black; lateral line curves gently to base of tail.
Similar fish: cero, S. regalis; king mackerel, S. cavalla.
Where found: INSHORE, NEARSHORE, and OFFSHORE, from the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico, as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They are a shallow water species, preferring sand bottom in 10 to 40 foot depths, occasionally found as deep as 80 feet.
Size: average catch less than 2 pounds (20 inches).
Remarks: Schooling fish that migrates northward in spring, returning to southerly waters when water temperatures drop below about 70 degrees F; spawns OFFSHORE, spring through summer
Feeding Habits: Spanish mackerel are voracious, opportunistic, carnivores. As with other members of the genus, food consists mainly of small fishes with lesser quantities of shrimp and squid. Striped anchovies, menhaden, alewives and thread herring are particularly important forage in North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Veracruz. The percentage of anchovies consumed is higher for juveniles than for adults.
Fishing Methods: Spanish mackerel are a highly valued fish throughout their range from North Carolina to Texas. Recreational anglers catch Spanish mackerel from boats while trolling or drifting and from boats, piers, jetties, and beaches by casting spoons and jigs and live-bait fishing. Fast lure retrieves are key to catching these quick fish.