Scomberomorous maculatus Photo Claire Sunquist ©
Spanish Mackerel are related to tuna and have sharply forked tails, streamlined bodies, thin skin, and very sharp teeth. They travel in large groups, moving further north in the spring and returning south in the fall. In Florida, you are more likely to catch these fish in late summer and fall. Mackerel can be found offshore or inshore, usually where baitfish hang out.
Spanish Mackerel often feed on pods of schooling bait fish which also attract flocks of gulls, pelicans, and terns. Fishermen use these flocks of feeding birds to locate schools of mackerel.
These fast fish are usually caught with live bait or shiny spoons and plugs - anything that will attract their attention. Mackerel die quickly when taken out of the water and should be put directly on ice after being caught. They are very tasty fish and best eaten fresh.
If you are fishing from any of Florida's piers or the Skyway Bridge in Tampa, make sure to reel your catch in quickly. Dolphins have learned to hang around these fishing spots and love to steal freshly hooked mackerel. The dolphins at Ft. Desoto Gulf Pier are well known for snatching just-caught fish.
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