Spanish Mackerel Fishing (Scomber maculatus)

All Tackle Record

Spanish Mackerel Fishing (Scomber maculatus)

Spanish Mackerel are grade A light tackle game fish, appreciated by US recreational and commercial fishermen alike, both for their great fighting skills and value as food.

Spanish Mackerel move and feed in large schools close to the surface, between 20 and 40ft of depth. They can easily be distinguished from other Mackerel based on a multitude of bronze/yellowish spots on the sides of their bodies.

How big

This isn't the typical bragging-size fish, with adults averaging at about 2 to 6lbs. However, individuals of about 25lbs have been reported, but not recorded. They live up to 11 years.

When & Where

This species can be found in waters of the western Atlantic, at times as far north as Cape Cod and south to Florida, throughout the Gulf of Mexico down to the Yucatan Peninsula. Farther south they get replaced by a similar species, the Serra Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus brasiliensis). The Narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson) replaces them in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

They migrate towards North Carolina along the Atlantic coastline during the summer, to return to these waters in the fall. Some of them will move west towards Texas fisheries in early spring and south towards Cancún between August and November.

Ideal for introducing young anglers to fishing. Caught aboard the children-friendly Miss Madison out of Orange Beach, AL

How to catch

Spanish Mackerel are easy to find and fun to catch. They feed in large schools at the surface, so there will be obvious water commotion and, possibly, bird activity at the feeding spots.

Once seen, you should chum the spot with glass minnows, which can be used as live bait along with scaled sardines or pilchard. Shrimp will be perfect for larger fish.

Artificials are also gladly accepted, especially nylon jigs, retrieved with rapid jerking motions. Feather lures or fast trolling of spoons through the school of fish will work great, as will flies once the fish are chummed up to the surface.

It's important to remember that sometimes everything you do will be successful, while, at other times, nothing will work. This has not been shown to correlate with weather or sea conditions.

Good to eat?

Very good quality meat, but best eaten fresh - gets rancid after less than three months when frozen (commercially sold with preservatives because of that).



  • Season - always open;
  • Size limit - 12'' FL for Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana; 14'' TL for Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York; no size limit for Alabama and Mississippi;
  • Bag limit (per angler per day) - 15 for all states;
         Mexico allows up to 10 fish, up to 5 of which may be the same species;
  • Season - always open;
  • Western Australia - up to 3 fish within the pelagic limit, minimum 90cm;
  • Queensland - up to 3 fish, minimum 75cm;
  • New South Wales - up to 5 fish, minimum 75cm;
Similar Game Fish:

Spanish Mackerel Fishing Destinations