South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Mackerel, Spanish

A Spanish Mackerel is held out of the water with a lure in its' mouth.

Mackerel, Spanish

Scomberomorus maculatus
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
All areas are open for commercial fishing.

The Spanish mackerel is much smaller than its relative, the king mackerel, averaging only 2 to 3 pounds in weight. Spanish mackerel are greenish dorsally with silver sides and bellies. Yellow or olive oval spots traverse the body, which is covered with very tiny scales. The lateral line curves gently to the base of the tail.

Spanish mackerel form immense, fast-moving schools that are distributed from New York to Mexico, preferring water temperatures above 68° F. Unlike king mackerel, Spanish mackerel do not appear to move freely around the Florida Keys, creating two subpopulations, one in the Gulf and the other off the southeastern states. Spanish mackerel are fast-growing and may live to be 8 years old. Both sexes are capable of reproduction by the second year. Spawning occurs from April to September off the North Carolina and Virginia coasts. Feeding Spanish mackerel are often seen forcing schools of small fish into tight bundles and nearly pushing them out of the water.



  • Season is currently open.
  • 15 Bag Limit
  • Min. Size: 12 in Fork Length
  • Notes:

    Allowed to keep cut-off (damaged) Atlantic Spanish mackerel caught under the recreational bag limit and complies with the minimum size limits.

    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.

    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

  • 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.

    Secretarial review
  • CMP Framework Amendment 13

    Responds to the latest stock assessment (SEDAR 78). Atlantic Spanish Mackerel are neither overfished nor undergoing overfishing.  This amendment will update catch levels based on the SSC recommendations.