Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They occur in all tropical and temperate seas.
Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel, enter bays and can be caught near bridges and piers. The largest species called “mackerel” is the King Mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) which can grow to 66 inches (1.68 m).
Common features of mackerels are a slim, cylindrical shape (as opposed to the tunas which are deeper bodied) and numerous finlets on the dorsal and ventral sides behind the dorsal and anal fins.
Mackerels are prized for their meat which is often oily. They spoil quickly and should be gutted and iced down right after they are caught, then cooked or frozen within a day or two of being caught.
They are known for their fighting ability, and are an important recreational and commercial fishery.
Some species are often used as bait, especially for grouper and other bottom feeders.