South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Mackerel, King

Mackerel, King

Scomberomorus cavalla, Smoker, kingfish
Recreational
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Commercial
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

Color of back iridescent bluish green or iron-gray, sides and belly silvery with pale to dusky fins; streamlined body with tapered head; distinguished from Spanish mackerel by the king mackerel’s lateral line, which dips sharply. The anterior dorsal fin on a king mackerel is gray in coloration; young fish often have yellowish spots like those of Spanish mackerel.

King mackerel prefer warm waters, and seldomly enter waters below 68° F. The affinity for warm water and the availability of food result in extensive migrations along the southeastern United States, south in the fall and north in the spring. They are caught as far north as the Gulf of Maine, but more often from Virginia south to Brazil, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. King mackerel spawn from April to November, with males maturing between their second and third year, and females between their third and fourth year. Largest of the mackerels, the king mackerel may reach a length of 5.5 feet and weigh 100 pounds. They feed on other migratory fishes, squid, and shrimp, and may be seen leaping out of the water in pursuit of prey.

Regulations

NC, SC, GA

  • Season is currently open.
  • 3 Bag Limit
  • Min. Size: 24 in Fork Length
  • Notes:

    Must be landed with head and fins intact.

    A person who is on a trip that spans more than 24 hours may possess no more than two daily bag limits, provided: such trip is aboard a vessel operating as a charter vessel or headboat; the vessel has two licensed operators aboard; and each passenger is issued and has in possession a receipt issued on behalf of the vessel that verifies the length of the trip.

    ———-

    Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats: -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information on management of South Atlantic federal fisheries, please visit SAFMC or NOAA Fisheries.

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

FL

  • Season is currently open.
  • 2 Bag Limit
  • Min. Size: 24 in Fork Length
  • Notes:

    Must be landed with head and fins intact.

    ———-

    Federally Permitted Charter/Headboats: -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that fish. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in state waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in federal waters but open in state waters, the vessel is not allowed to retain that species. -If a federally permitted vessel fishing in federal waters catches a species that is closed to harvest in state waters but open to harvest in federal waters, they may retain that fish if they do not stop to fish in state waters when returning to port. All gear must be stowed.

    For more information on management of South Atlantic federal fisheries, please visit SAFMC or NOAA Fisheries.

    To see commercial regulations, download Fish Rules Commercial App for iOS devices or Android devices.

Amendments in progress

  • CMP Amendment 33

    Revises sector allocations for Gulf migratory group king mackerel.

    Scoping
  • CMP Amendment 34

    Updates catch levels for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel and revises management measures for Atlantic migratory group king mackerel and Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel.

    Secretarial review
  • CMP Amendment 32

    Includes actions to end overfishing of Gulf cobia and update the Coastal Migratory Pelagics framework procedures.

    Rule making
  • Comprehensive Commercial Electronic Logbook Amendment

    Included in the Joint Commercial Electronic Logbook Reporting Amendment. Modifies reporting requirements for commercial logbooks in the snapper grouper, coastal migratory pelagics (mackerel and cobia) , and dolphin wahoo fisheries.

    Public hearing

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