Mackerels

King Mackerel

sketch

Family Scombridae, MACKERELS and TUNAS
Scomberomorous cavalla


Description: color of back iridescent bluish green; sides silvery, streamlined body with tapered head; no black pigment on front of dorsal fin; lateral line starts high and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin; young fish often have yellow spots like those of the Spanish mackerel.

Similar Fish: cero, S. regalis; Spanish mackerel, S. maculatus.

Where found: NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE, occasionally taken from piers running into deep water. East of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach.

Size: common to 20 pounds.

*Florida Record: 90 lbs.

Remarks: schooling fish that migrates fom south Florida waters in winter to more northerly waters in spring; Gulf population thought to be separate from Atlantic population, with considerable mixing in winter from Cape Canaveral past Key West; spawns in midsummer OFFSHORE; feeds on small fish and squid.

Spanish Mackerel

sketch

Family Scombridae, MACKERELS and TUNAS
Scomberomorous maculatus


Description: color of back green, shading to silver on sides, golden yellow irregular spots above and below lateral line; front of dorsal fin black; lateral line curves gently to base of tail.

Similar Fish: cero, S. regalis; king mackerel, S. cavalla.

Where found: INSHORE, NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE, especially over grass beds and reefs; absent from north Florida waters in winter. East of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach.

Size: average catch less than 2 pounds (20 inches).

*Florida Record: 12 lbs.

Remarks: schooling fish that migrates northward in spring, returning to southerly waters when water temperature drops below 70 degrees F; spawns OFFSHORE, spring through summer; feeds on small fish and squid.

Cero (cero mackerel)

sketch

Family Scombridae, MACKERELS and TUNAS
Scomberomorous regalis


Description: color of back iridescent bluish green; sides silvery, yellow spots forming lines above and below a bronze stripe from pectoral fin to base of tail; front of first dorsal fin is bluish black; lateral line curves gradually to base of caudal fin.

Similar Fish: Spanish mackerel, S. maculatus; king mackerel, S. cavalla (only the cero has the yellow-brown stripes from the pectoral to caudal fin).

Where found: NEARSHORE and OFFSHORE fish occurring mainly in south Florida, especially over coral reefs and wrecks. South of East of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach.

Size: common to 5 pounds.

*Florida Record: 15 lbs., 8 ozs.

Remarks: unlike other mackerels, does not stray far from south Florida waters; spawns OFFSHORE in midsummer; feeds on small fish and squid.