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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

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