South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Mackerel, Spanish

Mackerel, Spanish

Mackerel, Spanish

Scomberomorus maculatus
All areas are open for recreational fishing.
Check permits

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 belly. Yellow or olive oval spots traverse the body, which is covered with very tiny scales. The lateral line curves gently to base of 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: 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.

    For more information, see: SAFMC Spanish Mackerel Regulations

    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.

  • 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.

    Final approval
  • CMP Amendment 32

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

    Secretarial review