Jack Mackerel (Pacific)

From 27th Trip: Native Sun 3/4 Day Trip 12/21

Family: Carangidae (Jacks)

Genus and Species: Trachurus symmetricus

Description: The body of the jack mackerel is rather elongate; somewhat compressed. The body tapers to a tail, which is as broad as it is deep. The color is metallic blue to olive green above becoming silvery below. The jack mackerel, which is not a true mackerel, is quite similar to the Mexican scad, but can be distinguished by the enlarged scales along the side and by the last rays of the dorsal and anal fins being attached to the body. These rays are isolated finlets on the Mexican scad.

Range: Jack mackerel occur from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to southeast Alaska, and from the surface to depths of 150 feet. Adults may be found over 500 miles offshore.

Natural History: Jack mackerel are known to feed heavily upon anchovies, lanternfish, or juvenile squid. Food studies indicated that more than 90 percent of the identifiable items found in the stomachs of jack mackerel are crustaceans and small, free swimming mollusks. Half of the 2 year old females are sexually mature and will spawn. All are spawning when they are 3 years old. Spawning takes place from March through June, and occurs over an extensive area from 80 to over 240 miles offshore. Jack mackerel regularly live 20-30 years and weigh 4 to 5 pounds. For fish with such a long life span, they become sexually mature at a very young age. They are quite common near the islands and banks off southern California up to 3 or 4 years of age, and then presumably move offshore or northward.

Fishing Information: Younger jack mackerel do not feed extensively on anchovies, do not readily bite on baited hook or lure, and thus are a much less common addition to the catch of a sport angler. They can be jigged, however, on small feathered hooks and frequently are used as a bait for larger gamefish by the experienced ocean angler. These younger fish are taken by the southern California commercial purse seine fishery since they occur in large schools. Jack mackerel are most frequently taken as 15+ year-olds by commercial albacore trollers and bottomfish trawlers, generally in northern California waters and further offshore. These larger, older fish have been found in offshore waters from Baja California to the Aleutian Islands.

Other Common Names: horse mackerel, Spanish mackerel, mackerel-jack, jackfish, Pacific jack mackerel.

Largest Recorded: 32 inches; a fraction of an ounce more than 5 pounds; a 28.5 inch jack mackerel weighed 5.25 pounds.

Habitat: Pelagic Environment

About the Author

Sean loves to fish in Southern California and this site is his journal of his adventures in fishing. He started fishing when he was a little guy with his dad David, and has continued to this day with his family. In his day job, Sean has been a graphic designer for over 15 years, designing everything from in-store displays and signage for supermarkets to e-commerce auction sites for an online consumer electronics company. He was a web and graphic designer then later an art director for McMullen Argus Publishing (Primedia), building and working on sites for Lowrider Magazine and Super Chevy, plus 30 other automotive magazine sites. Sean seized the opportunity to teach other aspiring designers - a passion that took him first to Learning Tree University and then to Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA, where he has been an integral part of the renowned digital arts department for more than ten years. Throughout his teaching career, Sean maintained a freelance business, designing for clients including the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards), Image Comics and many more. See his work at http://www.glumace.com.