Friday, May 24, 2013

Mack or King

Many anglers will catch mature Spanish mackerel right alongside juvenile king mackerel. This can cause confusion when it comes to a proper identification for those looking to keep their recreational catch.
It’s very easy to mix up the two fish as they are very similar in appearance. However, if a mistake is made most Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers are not very understanding of the ignorance excuse.
Therefore, I think a post I made last year showing the proper way to distinguish the two fish, will come in handy again this year.
The following photos were provided to me by a fellow angler who frequents the Boatless Fishing internet forum. I took the time to Photoshop in the type and identifiers. These photos provide good examples of how to tell the difference between a juvenile king mackerel (kingish) and a Spanish mackerel.
Juvenile kingfish and mature Spanish mackerel are often caught in the same areas when the kingfish are running and are often of the same size. They can be easily confused by novice anglers. I used to have a hard time myself until I learned to look for the tell tale differences.

(Photo Courtesy: David Thornton)
The two main things to look for are the lateral lines and the dorsal fins. A juvenile kingfish’s lateral line dips significantly compared to a Spanish mackerel. Also the dorsal fin of a juvi kingfish will be a much lighter color, more of a gray or white color than the Spanish, whose fin will be black or very dark in color.
Here is a close up of the dorsal fins.

(Photo Courtesy: David Thornton)
Knowing these differences between the two fish should help you distinguish the difference between the two if you’re ever out fishing for mackerel and catch both species during the same trip. This is a very common occurrence whether trolling offshore, fishing the beaches, on some of the state’s piers, and even locally from the Sunshine Skyway Piers.
Anglers should remember the limit on the two fish differ significantly. The minimum size in Florida for king mackerel is 24 inches to the fork with two fish allowed per angler per day. The minimum size for Spanish mackerel is 12 inches to the fork with 15 fish allowed per angler per day.
Story Courtesy of Michael "SnookMook" Wilson

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