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Learn about Atlantic mackerel

Atlantic mackerel, a popular baitfish, are a common fish in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Read on to learn more about this fish.


  • Atlantic mackerel can grow up to 16 inches long and weigh around 2 pounds. They are metallic blue-green dorsally, and fade to silver along the sides and belly. There are 20-30 wavy black bars running down the sides.
  • Atlantic mackerel have a tapered body, and a large head and mouth. They also have two large dorsal fins and a forked caudal fin.
Atlantic mackerel

Atlantic mackerel facts

  • Species name: Scomber scombrus
  • Atlantic mackerel eat copepods, shrimp, krill and squid and other small fishes, and are eaten by large fishes and marine mammals.
  • Atlantic mackerel spawn from April to May in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, and from June to July in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. 
  • Small females lay around 280,000 eggs and larger females can lay around 2 million eggs, which they release in batches between 5 and 7 times during a spawning season.
  • Mackerel can live to be 20 years old.
  • They are a schooling fish, who tend to stay above 180 feet.
  • Commercially mackerel are caught with mid-water trawls, purse seines and by jigging with rod and reel.
  • Atlantic mackerel go after bait that targets other species, and are quick to bite.
  • They have a very strong flavor, and off-white, moist, and flaky meat when cooked. They are sometimes smoked or even eaten raw as sashimi.
  • Atlantic mackerel are found from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Strait of Belle Isle, as well as northern Europe.
Atlantic mackerel distribution map

Additional Resources

Contact for Learn about Atlantic mackerel


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(617) 727-3337


Gloucester Field Office
30 Emerson Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930

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