Cero Mackerel — How to Catch Scomberomorus regalis

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Catching cero mackerel on rod and reel or speargun is a blast!

This guide will show you how to catch mackerel the easy way.

how to catch cero mackerel
The large yellow line on the side is a great tell if it’s a cero mackerel. Source: Kevin Bryant


Cero mackerel is a ray-finned bony fish that is a bit bigger than the Spanish mack. This mack has stripes and spots whereas the latter only has spots.

Cero Mackerel Facts

Scientific NameScomberomorus regalis
Common Name(s)Cero Mackerel
Identifying CharacteristicsThis mackerel has a black dorsal fin and a yellowish stripe and bars on the side.
Depth Range12 to 45 m
HabitatCero mackerel can be found in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod through Florida, to the Caribbean Sea right to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
LimitsCheck your local regulations
Largest Recorded93 lbs

How to Catch Cero Mackerel

They remain near the surface so use topwater lures to attract them. You can also use shiny spoons or chum that is made with different cut up baitfish such as pilchard or ballyhoo.

If you’re using live bait, go for herrings, sardines, crabs, shrimp, and menhaden. If you cannot find live bait, you can go for the frozen variety such as frozen cigar minnows, ribbonfish, and Spanish mack.

cero swimming near reef
A small mackerel swimming near the reef. Source: Steven Severinghaus

Big ceros are in deeper waters. Bring the proper mackerel rigs, lures, and terminal tackle to switch if necessary.

Fishing Tactics

  1. A hooked cero will make a mad dash to safety, so make sure that the drag is not too tight.
  2. A solid rig is a braid mainline to a 30-inch piece of mono to 18 inches of #3 wire to your pompano jig tipped with shrimp.

Fishing Tips

  • If you are trolling for ceros with live bait, do so slowly by using a dead idle. Do this by nudging the boat along the water slowly using a single engine.
  • By fishing with several baits at once, you can increase your chances of reeling in a school of ceros. Similarly, you can use 6 mackerel lures and spread them out but keep checking them periodically.
  • 20 lb braid should suffice for this mackerel fish.


  1. Staring these fish down can make them nervous, and they can swim off too fast for you to take aim. Allow the mackerel to swim right up to you by keeping very still in the water and then shoot.
  2. A popular spearfishing setup for this mackerel is a 1.2m rail gun that has a 20m float line and an 11L float.


They can be found throughout the year, but if you want to find them in abundance, head out in the water between April and October when the fish is spawning. The best time to catch mackerel is on the full moon or during the first and last two hours of daylight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does mackerel have scales?

A: The scales of the mackerel are so small that it feels as if it doesn’t have any scales at all.

Q: Can you eat cero mackerel?

A: Yes. They have full of flavor and rich taste. It is a stronger-tasting fish compared to other oily varieties.

Q: What do they eat?

A: They are an apex predator that hunts other fish, such as snappers, grunts, and halfbeaks, but they also feed on crustaceans and mollusks.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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