The Atlantic Spanish mackerel is a migratory species of mackerel that swims to the northern Gulf of Mexico in spring, returns to south Florida in the eastern gulf, and to Mexico in the western gulf in the fall.
Spanish mackerel are voracious, opportunistic, carnivores. As with other members of the genus, food consists mainly of small fishes with lesser quantities of shrimp and squid. Striped anchovies (Engraulidae) and clupeoids such as menhaden, alewives and thread herring (Opisthonema), are particularly important forage in North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Veracruz. The percentage of anchovies consumed is higher for juveniles than for adults.
Spanish mackerel are a highly valued fish throughout their range from North Carolina to Texas. Recreational anglers catch Spanish mackerel from boats while trolling or drifting and from boats, piers, jetties, and beaches by casting spoons and jigs and live-bait fishing.
Spanish mackerel occur seasonally from the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico, as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They are a shallow water species, preferring sand bottom in 20 to 40 foot (6 to 12 m) depths, occasionally found as deep as 80 feet (24 m).
They have also been caught in the Sea of Cortez near Punta Pescadores.
It appears that one Atlantic and one or more Gulf groups of Spanish mackerel occur in Florida waters. With rising water temperatures, the Atlantic group migrates along the Atlantic coast of the United States from Miami Florida, beginning in late February through July reaching as far as southern Cape Cod, Massachusetts, then returning in fall. An Eastern Gulf group moves northward from the Florida Keys during late winter and spring, appearing off the central West Coast of Florida about April 1. Movement continues westward and terminates along the northern Texas coast. During fall, this group migrates back to its wintering grounds in the Keys.
The fish exhibits a green back; its sides are silvery marked with about three rows of round to elliptical orange spots. Lateral line gradually curving down from the upper end of the gill cover toward caudal peduncle. The first (spiny) dorsal fin is black at the front. Posterior membranes are white with a black edge. Its single row of cutting edged teeth in each jaw are large, uniform, closely spaced and flattened from side to side. As with the King mackerel and the Cero mackerel, these teeth look very similar to those of the Bluefish, Pomatomus Saltatrix.