by David Proudfoot

Trachurus trachurus

species ID scad

Other Names

Buck mackerel, Horse Mackerel, Mossbanker, Skipper

Distinguishing features

Although also know as the horse mackerel the scad is from a totally different family to the Atlantic mackerel. The body shape is similar but two dorsal fins are close together with the front one being spiny and the posterior one being large and stretching down to the tail. It has a large anal fin with two conjoined spins to its anterior. The scad has a large pectoral fin and series of large boney scales along the lateral line. The back is a blue grey with a greenish tinge fading into silvery sides and a white belly.


The maximum size for scad is around 1.5 kg but the majority of captures are less than half that size.

British Record Fish List

UK Shore Record: 3lb 0oz 14dms / 1.384kgs
UK Boat Record: 3lb 5oz 3dms / 1.507kgs

European Line Class Record for this species


The scad can be found throughout the southern end of the eastern North Atlantic and south as far as the west coast of Africa. It is pelagic and can be found throughout the water column although it’s more common in the upper layers. It is found in water less than 100 metres deep.


Scad feed on small fish, crustaceans and squid.


Small fish baits will produce scad as will ragworm and squid strip.


As with their namesake, the mackerel, scad will regularly take feathers and other small lures.

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