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Spanish Mackerel

The Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus maculatus , are members of the mackerel family, Scombridae. The species support major commercial and sport fisheries along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico; their visits to the Chesapeake Bay are generally confined to the middle and lower Bay.

Spanish mackerel live in the coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean, from the Gulf of Maine to the Yucatan Peninsula.
They are a schooling fish, preferring shallow coastal ocean waters, but they freely enter tidal estuaries.
The Spanish mackerel also has an elongated, compressed body and pointed snout, and is dusky blue dorsally with a silver underside.
These mackerel are found most frequently in water temperatures between 70 and 88 degrees F, and rarely in waters below 64 degrees F. Spanish mackerel is a common visitor to the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay from spring to autumn, sometimes swimming as far north as the mouth of the Patuxent River.
Like the king, Spanish mackerel is a surface-dwelling, near-shore species, that will migrate over long distances in large schools along the shore. As water temperatures in the south increase, it moves north, entering the Bay when temperatures exceed 63 degrees F.
They spawn off Virginia over a long period between late spring and late summer.
Spanish mackerel consume small fishes, shrimp and squid, and reach a maximum age of 8 years.
The Fisheries

King mackerel support an important commercial fishery along the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic coasts. In recent years, they have primarily been caught commercially in south Florida and increasingly off North Carolina and Louisiana. Historically there was a small commercial fishery for king mackerel in the Chesapeake Bay, when pound nets and gill nets were introduced in the 1880s. Total commercial catch appears to have averaged 4 million pounds during the 1920s and 1930s. Commercial landings fell to 2.5 million pounds by the 1950s and increased to 8 million pounds in the mid-1970s. Since 1985 the coastal fishery has been quota managed, and catches have averaged 3.5 million pounds. Commercial landings of king mackerel and both Maryland and Virginia are insignificant, although in some years Virginia supports a small directed hook-and-line fishery.

The Spanish mackerel commercial fishery was born around 1850 along the Long Island and New Jersey coasts, and by the 1870s was well-established in the mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay area. In 1880 the Chesapeake Bay area produced 86 percent of the total coastal catch of 1.9 million pounds. By 1887 this number had dropped to 64 percent, after areas of major production had changed. This trend continued, and from 1950 through 1985 Florida accounted for more than 92 percent of the Spanish mackerel commercial landings. Since 1986 Florida's contribution to the commercial harvest has decreased due to increased landings along the south and mid-Atlantic. Total commercial landings ranged between 5 million pounds and 18 million pounds, and between 1950 and 1983 averaged around 8 million pounds. The coastal landings have been quota-managed since 1986.


To book your trip aboard Light Tackle Charters call Captain Walt at (410) 957-1664 or email him from this site! Remember, your date is not "booked" until a deposit has been recieved.

Light Tackle Charters
2630 Cambrook Drive
Pocomoke City, MD 21851

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You may bring your own fly, spinning, casting or trolling outfits. I recommend different outfits of different size & weights dependent upon the time of year and the species we'll be stalking. Just talk with me (via phone or e-mail) prior to the trip and I'll be happy to make recommendations...