Mackerel (Atlantic) (Scomber scombrus)

Mackerel (Atlantic)

  • Size 14-18"
  • Food Value Good
  • Game Qualities Average
  • Habitats Nearshore, Offshore

Atlantic Mackerel goes by a number of names, including Common Mackerel, Boston Mackerel, or just Mackerel. Like other Mackerel species, this fish is a seasonal, fast swimming, and delicious catch. Anglers beware: fishing for Atlantic Mackerel is either “feast or famine:” sometimes it’s abundant, sometimes it’s scarce.

How Big?

Atlantic Mackerel typically grow 14-18” long and weigh 1¼ -2½  lb. The current IGFA all tackle record is 3 lb 8 oz.

When and Where

This species inhabits the North Atlantic Ocean. To the east, Atlantic Mackerel are found from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean, as well as in the Black Sea. To the west, they swims in the waters between the Labrador Sea and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Anglers on the East Coast catch two different stocks of Atlantic Mackerel. The southern stock and northern stock meet off the coast of New England around May, then part ways again. The northern stock moves back toward Nova Scotia, while the southern fish spend summer along the coast of Maine. As fall approaches, the southern stock moves south to Cape Cod and eventually disappears off of Block Island. Shortly after, the northern stock heads south again, following the southern fish out past Cape Cod. Anglers know very little about how these fish spend their winter, aside from the fact that they stay somewhere offshore between Sable Island (near Nova Scotia) and Cape Cod.

How to Fish

Anglers generally catch these fish in nearshore waters and large bays. When Atlantic Mackerel are abundant, they’re relatively easy to find (either by spotting clues along the water surface or tailing other boats that are already on to them).

Atlantic Mackerel swim mid-water, so keeping your bait at the right level is key. It’s common to jig for them using a main leader with several small tube lures attached to it, along with a 3-4 oz diamond jig. When these fish aren’t swimming so deep, you can also catch them on jigs and flies.

Good to Eat?

Atlantic Mackerel is a very good eating fish. The flesh is firm and has a distinctive, savory flavor. This fish tastes great fresh, frozen, smoked, or salted (whole or filleted).

If luck is on your side, you can bring back a cooler full of Mackerel to enjoy for dinner!

Fish Species Similar to Mackerel (Atlantic)

Bonito

Cero Mackerel

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Spanish Mackerel (Narrow-barred)


Top Mackerel (Atlantic) Fishing Charters

Top Mackerel (Atlantic) Fishing Destinations