Spanish mackerel occur seasonally from the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico, as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They can usually be found in Maryland’s waters from August – October.
They have a green back and their silvery sides are marked with three rows of elliptical yellow spots. Spanish mackerel have a single row of cutting edged teeth in each jaw (around sixty-four teeth in all) are large, uniform, closely spaced and flattened from side to side, these teeth look very similar to those of the Bluefish. Those caught in Maryland waters tend to be between two and four pounds, though a record 12.4 pounder was caught here in 2007.
While the season is open year-round, Spanish mackerel like warmer waters and they migrate with the seasonal shifts in temperature—making for a relatively limited season in Maryland. They tend to arrive in the Chesapeake Bay as the water warms in late May and into June. They can be caught at the mouth of the Bay early in the season, in the lower Bay in the summer and early fall, and then in middle Bay through midsummer until they head back to south in the early fall.
They are a shallow water species, preferring sand bottom in depths of 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 m), occasionally found as deep as 80 feet (24 m). Fast lure retrieves are key to catching these quick fish.
Spanish mackerel travel in schools, often among blue fish. They often chase their prey to the surface. If you see birds diving for bait, that Spanish mackerel are likely among the fish driving those baits to the surface. 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.
License and Regulations
Simple, quick, and at the palm of your hand, DNR’s app is the easiest way to get your Maryland fishing license. Download the app on your smartphone (MD DNR), click Apply for License, and enroll. From the app, you can also register any catches, post photos, and check for regulations updates. Or, you can apply for a license through Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website. There are a few instances where registering for a license may not be necessary; visit Maryland DNR for a full list of these exceptions. For more information on fishing without a license – and locations where licenses are not required – visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/Free-Fishing.aspx. Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a complete list of Maryland’s Fishing Regulations.
Money generated from the sale of licenses goes directly to the conservation, protection, and preservation of Maryland’s natural habitat and cherished wildlife. Maryland DNR works tirelessly to maintain a healthy population of fish and game, and the regulations needed to sustain fishing and hunting in Maryland. Changes in regulations, dates, and requirements vary year-to-year. Please check with DNR frequently for the most up-to-date information.