Field Guide: Mackerel (King and Spanish)

Type: mackerel-king-and-spanish

Mackerel (King and Spanish)

What is it

These sleek, medium-sized fish come in two sorts: King Mackerel (or Kingfish) and Spanish Mackerel. The “kings” and “princes” of Alabama’s coast weigh in at an average of 10 and three pounds respectively making them a great target for family fishing trips. Mackerel hold a strong, robust flavor and are often compared to Salmon for their texture and taste.

When to get it

Spanish Mackerel arrive every year in late March, just in time for Alabama’s spring break charter boat season, and they only stick around for a couple of months before making a return appearance in early fall. King Mackerel show up as early as May and stick around as late as October, but they’re at their seasonal peak in the late summer months. Keep in mind, Mackerel don’t freeze well, so make sure you buy fresh and eat soon.

Where does it come from

These silvery bolts are always on the move, roaming through near-shore and coastal waters in search of food. While Spanish Mackerel tend to stay closer to the beach, you’ll usually find both types in open water, and they’re particularly fond of offshore oil and gas platforms.

How it's prepared

Mackerel filets can be fried, broiled or baked, but the easiest (and perhaps the tastiest) method for cooking the whole fish is poaching. Once you’ve prepped it, simply put the fish—skin and all—in a large pot of cold, salty water and cut the heat off when the water starts to boil. If you’re ever on a charter boat with an onboard stove, don’t be surprised if the captain serves up poached Mackerel for dinner.


King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel.

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