Chub Mackerel vs Jack Mackerel: What’s The Difference?


Pacific chub mackerel and pacific jack mackerel almost have the same name, and they swim in the same waters. For this reason many people wonder if they’re really the same. Therefore, is chub mackerel the same as jack mackerel? 

Pacific chub mackerel and pacific jack mackerel are different species, family and genus. Pacific chub mackerel is the S. japonicas species and the Pacific jack mackerel is the T. symmetricus species. Jack mackerel doesn’t have the chub mackerel’s wavy lines, and they have much longer dorsal and anal fins.

This article will examine and compare their tastes, textures, costs, cooking methods, mercury levels and if one can substitute for the other. In addition, I’ll do a side-by-side comparison of their habitats, appearance and nutrients.

Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.

Disclaimer: The above link and others in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel: Habitats, Size, Weight and Appearance

When shopping for a particular species of fish or fishing, the type of fish may not be easily recognized by appearance only. For this reason, this section of the article will inform you of a simple way to identify which fish is which.

When most people refer to chub mackerel or jack mackerel, they are referring to the Pacific chub mackerel and the Pacific jack mackerel.

Therefore, how can you tell a Pacific chub mackerel from a Pacific jack mackerel?

To tell the difference between a Pacific chub mackerel and Pacific jack mackerel check their body side markings and dorsal fins. The Pacific chub mackerel has dark wavy lines on the sides which jack mackerel doesn’t have. The jack mackerel’s second dorsal fin is over twice as long as the chub mackerel’s second dorsal fin.

Additional ways to tell the difference between a chub mackerel and a jack mackerel are:

  • Pacific jack mackerel has a lateral line running down the side of the body which has a sharp dip half way down. The Pacific chub mackerel doesn’t have a lateral line.
  • The anal fin of the Pacific jack mackerel has over twice the number of soft rays and length of the pacific chub mackerel.
pacific chub mackerel and pacific jack mackerel photo comparison
(top) Pacific Chub Mackerel
(bottom) Pacific Jack Mackerel

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Scientific Classifications, Families, Species

Pacific chub mackerel are from:

  • Family: Scombridae
  • Genus: Scomber
  • Species: S. japonicus
  • Common nicknames: Pacific mackerel, chub mackerel, pacific chub, chub.

Pacific jack mackerel are from:

  • Family: Carangidae
  • Genus: Trachurus
  • Species: T. symmetricus
  • Common nicknames: Jack mackerel, California jack mackerel, horse mackerel.

Pacific chub mackerel and Pacific jack mackerel are different species from different families and genus. The Pacific jack mackerel was originally called horse mackerel. The FDA allowed the name to be changed to jack mackerel in 1948 to increase its market appeal.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Habitats

Pacific chub mackerel habitats

  • Pacific chub mackerel are found in the Pacific Ocean from southeastern Alaska to the coast of California and down south to central Mexico. In the summer they can be found more north near the western coastline of Washington State.
  • Pacific chub mackerel can be found in shallow waters to 1,000 feet deep. They prefer water between 50 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pacific jack mackerel habitats

  • Pacific jack mackerel are found in the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to the coast of California and down to southern Mexico.
  • Pacific jack mackerel can be found in shallow waters to 1,300 feet deep. They prefer water no less than 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pacific chub and Pacific jack mackerel are found in the same waters on the western coast of the United States from Alaska down to Mexico.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Appearance

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Colors

  • Pacific chub mackerel have a dark blue back, silvery-green sides and belly. Pacific chub mackerel have approximately 30 dark, wavy lines on the upper sides.
  • Pacific jack mackerel have a metallic blue to olive-green back and upper sides, transitioning to silvery sides and a white belly. The rear of the gill flap has a dark spot.

Pacific chub mackerel have wavy dark lines. Pacific jack mackerel don’t have wavy lines.

Dorsal Fins

  • Pacific chub mackerel has two dorsal fins spaced far part. The front dorsal has about 9 to 10 spines and the second dorsal has soft rays.
  • Pacific jack mackerel has two dorsal fins. The second dorsal fin is much longer than the first. The first dorsal fin has 8-10 spines, and the longer second dorsal has 31 to 35 soft rays.

Pacific chub mackerel and Pacific jack’s front dorsal are spiny and the second one having soft rays. The Pacific chub’s dorsals are spaced farther apart than the Pacific jack’s dorsals. The Pacific jack’s second dorsal is much longer than the Pacific chubs.

Anal Fins

  • The Pacific chub mackerel has one anal fin having soft rays with no spines.
  • The Pacific jack mackerel has one anal fin having 2-3 spines followed by 26 to 30 soft rays.

The Pacific jack mackerel’s longer anal fin has many more soft rays than the Pacific chub mackerels.

Tail Fins

  • The Pacific chub mackerel tail fin is forked.
  • The Pacific jack mackerel tail fin is forked.

Mouth

  • The Pacific chub mackerel mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line.
  • The Pacific jack mackerel mouth is large but doesn’t extend past the eye line.

Pacific chub mackerel and Pacific jack mackerel have sharp teeth inside their mouth. The Pacific jack mackerel has a patch of teeth on the tongue.

Body Shape

  • The Pacific chub mackerel body is long, slender and tapers narrower towards the tail fin.
  • The Pacific jack mackerel body is long, slender and tapers narrower towards the tail fin.

Distinguishing Marks

Pacific Chub Mackerel

  • Pacific chub mackerel have approximately 30 wavy dark lines on the upper sides down the length of the body.

Pacific Jack Mackerel

  • Pacific jack mackerel have a long lateral line running down the side of the body. The lateral line begins higher and has a sharp dip half way down the body. 
  • The Pacific jack’s lateral line has scales on the upper section and scutes on the lower section after the dip.
  • There is a small, dark spot on the rear of the Pacific jack mackerel’s gill flap.

Scales

  • The scales on the Pacific chub mackerel are tiny.
  • The scales on the Pacific jack mackerel are tiny.
jack mackerel and chub mackerel photo comparison
(top) Pacific Chub Mackerel
(bottom) Pacific Jack Mackerel

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Size and Weight

  • Pacific chub mackerel averages 8-14 inches long and 6 pounds. They weigh a maximum up to 13 pounds.
  • Pacific jack mackerel averages 21 inches long and weighs 5 pounds.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Lifespan

  • Pacific chub mackerel lives up to 18 years.
  • Pacific jack mackerel lives up to 30 years.

If you’re interested in the differences between a king mackerel and Spanish mackerel, check out my article, Spanish Mackerel vs King Mackerel – What’s The Difference?

Diet

Pacific chub mackerel consumes the following:

  • Plankton
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Shrimp
  • Krill
  • Crustaceans

Pacific jack mackerel consumes the following:

  • Zooplankton
  • Anchovies
  • Krill
  • Shrimp
  • Small fish
  • Squid

Species Resources 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Mackerel and other fish are known for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy.

If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel: Tastes and Textures

Taste and texture are two main reasons why people choose a particular fish to eat. After all, nobody wants to eat a fish they don’t think tastes good. When comparing the two fish, does Pacific jack mackerel taste like Pacific chub mackerel?

Pacific jack mackerel and Pacific chub mackerel have a similar medium flavor. Neither mackerel’s taste is mild or sweet. Chub and jack mackerel have an oilier flesh than most fish due to their higher fat content. Pacific jack and chub mackerel have a similar firm texture which breaks apart into flakes. 

Is Pacific chub mackerel good to eat? Pacific chub mackerel is good to eat and have a medium taste. The fish is slightly oily due to its high fat content. The texture is firm and breaks apart easily into flakes.

What does Pacific jack mackerel taste like? Pacific jack mackerel have a medium taste. The flesh is slightly oily due to its fat content. The texture is firm and flaky. 

Depending where the chub or jack mackerel was caught, it may taste slightly fishy to some people. Although most people don’t think it’s too fishy. Many people think it tastes like tuna.

I polled members of food groups I belong to and some readers. The following are the results of my poll which consisted of 42 people. I asked which fish tasted better, Pacific jack mackerel or Pacific chub mackerel?

  • 53% preferred the taste of Pacific jack mackerel.
  • 44% preferred the taste of Pacific chub mackerel.
  • 3% said they had no preference between the two.

If you’re interested in the differences between a king mackerel and an Atlantic mackerel, check out my article, King Mackerel vs Mackerel: What’s The Difference? We Compare.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Substitutions

It’s not always possible to locate the type of fish required for your recipe in the local fish market or store. In addition, you may have one fish already in the refrigerator ready to be used. If you have some chub mackerel, you may ask, can I substitute chub mackerel for Pacific jack mackerel?

Pacific chub mackerel and Pacific jack mackerel can substitute for each other due to their similar medium flavors. Jack and chub mackerels can be cooked using the same cooking methods due to their firm textures. Pacific chub mackerel and Pacific jack mackerel can be cooked by baking, broiling, frying, searing and grilling. 

Pacific chub mackerel substitutes include the following:

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Tuna
  • Bullhead
  • Northern pike
  • Salmon

Pacific jack mackerel substitutes include the following:

  • Bass
  • Tuna
  • Catfish
  • Northern pike
  • Bullhead
  • Salmon

When substituting either chub or jack mackerel always stick to the following:

  • Similar cuts of fillet.
  • Same size and weight.
  • Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
  • Similar texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 11.

How To Cook Pacific Jack Mackerel

Some people may find jack mackerel or Pacific chub mackerel a little fishy therefore the preparation is important. Many people soak the fish in milk or icy water, rinse the fillets and soak the fish again. Keep repeating this process until the water and the flesh of the fish become clearer. 

For the anglers, always keep any mackerel cold as possible and eat the fish within one or two days. This will help with the fishy flavor. Jack mackerel is popular as a canned fish.

Popular ways to cook Pacific jack mackerel include:

  • Searing
  • Frying
  • Baking
  • Broiling
  • Grilling

Jack mackerel flavor pairings:

  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Dijon mustard
  • White wine
  • Cajun
  • Smoked paprika

How To Cook Pacific Chub Mackerel

Popular ways to cook Pacific chub mackerel:

  • Frying
  • Searing
  • Grilling
  • Baking
  • Broiling

Flavor pairings for Pacific chub mackerel:

  • Black pepper
  • Cajun
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika
  • White wine

In a recent article I compared Cero and Spanish mackerels. Find out how they differ in my article, Spanish Mackerel vs Cero Mackerel – What’s The Difference?

Pacific Chub and Jack Mackerel Cost

The prices for fish will vary depending on how the fish are caught and where they’re sold. When purchasing any fish, be sure to check the label to see if it’s wild caught or farm-raised. Therefore, which fish costs more, Pacific chub mackerel or jack mackerel?

Pacific jack mackerel costs more than Pacific chub mackerel per ounce. Canned jack mackerel costs $021 per ounce and pacific chub mackerel costs $0.13 per ounce.

I conducted a search online for the most popular websites selling fish online. Some have stores locally. Currently, I was unable to locate any Pacific chub or jack mackerel fillets or whole fish.

I was able to locate many canned mackerel everywhere including Amazon:

  • Canned chub mackerel
    • $0.13 per ounce
  • Canned jack mackerel
    • $0.21 per ounce

Check out Amazon’s current prices and selection of mackerel or any seafood, Fresh Seafood.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Nutrients

Pacific chub and jack mackerels contain a variety of nutrients beneficial for health. Most notable are the B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, protein and minerals. The following nutrients can be found in both mackerel:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • B Vitamins
    • Folate
    • Riboflavin
    • Niacin
    • Thiamin
    • B5
    • B6
    • B12
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Iron

Below is a list of nutrients provided by canned jack mackerel per four ounces:

Nutrient Jack mackerel, canned (4 Ounces)
Calories 177
Fat 7.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.1 g
Cholesterol 90 mg
Protein 26 g
Omega-3 1.51 g
B-6 0.2 mg
B-12 7.8 mcg
Thiamin 0.04 mg
Riboflavin 0.24 mg
B5 0.3 mg
Iron 2.3 mg
Niacin 7.0 mg
Folate 5.6 mcg
Potassium 220 mg
Magnesium 41 mg
Phosphorus 341 mg
Calcium 273 mg
Zinc 1.1 mg
Selenium 42.7 mcg

Nutrient Resources 12 13

Keep reading below to find out how these nutrients benefit health.

Find out which mackerel contained more omega-3 and protein, Atlantic or Spanish, in my article, Atlantic Mackerel vs Spanish Mackerel – Are They The Same?

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Mercury Levels

The FDA and EPA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and how often they should be consumed 14. This is especially important for the following:

  • Developing children
  • Young infants
  • Pregnant women

They established a list of the following:

  • Fish to avoid
  • Good choices
  • Best fish

Therefore, does Pacific jack mackerel, or Pacific chub mackerel have more mercury?

Pacific jack mackerel and Pacific chub mackerel have similar levels of mercury and are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish regarding mercury levels. 

If you’re pregnant, breast feeding or has a young child, Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

Mercury warnings can change over time or affect only a particular area or state. Please check with your local EPA and FDA for the current recommendations 15.

Pacific Chub Mackerel and Pacific Jack Mackerel Health Benefits

Editor’s Note: The information on Foods For Anti Aging is meant to be informative in nature and not meant to be taken as medical advice. The articles and opinions on this website are unintended to be used as as a treatment, prevention or diagnosis of health problems. Before modifying or starting any new nutritional, food, fitness, exercise or/and supplement routine, always check with your doctor first.

One of the main reasons most fresh fish is healthy is due to its healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. This section will explain why they, and the vitamins and minerals are so important.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Mackerel provides one of the highest percentages of omega-3 fatty acids in the seafood world. The omega -3 fatty acids provided help keep arteries healthy and are considered heart healthy.

The omega-3s may help with the following:

  • Reduce plaque buildup.
  • Help regulate heart rhythms.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Lowering triglycerides.
  • Keeping bad cholesterol low.
  • Keeping good cholesterol high.

Many studies suggest omega-3s boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, they’ve been shown to help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

DHA and EPA, two of the fatty acids, are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 16.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins provided by Pacific chub and jack mackerel include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin)
  2. B2 (riboflavin)
  3. B3 (niacin)
  4. B5
  5. B6
  6. B9 (folate)
  7. B12

B vitamins help support the following:

  • Brain function.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Red blood cells.
  • Digestion.
  • Nerve function.
  • Energy levels.

Selenium

Selenium is a nutrient which doesn’t receive much attention in health related articles. I’m unsure why many people don’t write about it more. Many studies 17 show selenium may help to protect the following:

  • The immune system
  • Cognitive issues
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid

Potassium

Most mackerel provides 200 to 500 mg per four ounces. Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium which helps reduce fluid build-up. The result keeps systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 18.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and increased blood pressure 19.

The more potassium you consume, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 20.

Calcium

Calcium which Pacific chub and jack mackerel provide is important for blood pressure and the heart.

Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 21.

Calcium also helps the following:

  • Improve nerve function.
  • Helps muscles function properly.
  • Build and maintain strong bones.

Phosphorus

The phosphorus chub and jack mackerel provide has been shown in scientific research to help with the following:

  • Muscle recovery.
  • Muscle contraction.
  • Promote healthy nerve conduction.
  • Promote teeth and bone strength.
  • Help the body store and manage energy.
  • Help the kidneys remove waste.

Magnesium

The magnesium chub and jack mackerel provide helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased diastolic and systolic blood pressure 22.

Magnesium helps control the following:

  • Muscle
  • Nerve function
  • Blood sugar
  • Blood pressure
  • Insomnia

It’s able to accomplish this because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.

In the muscles and heart, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 23.

Read how Pacific Chub compared to Atlantic mackerel:

Atlantic Mackerel vs Pacific Chub Mackerel: The Differences

 

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Wikipedia: Chub mackerel[]
  2. NOAA Fisheries: Pacific Mackerel[]
  3. California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Pacific Chub Mackerel[]
  4. Sea Grant California: Pacific Mackerel[]
  5. Fishwatch U.S. Seafood Facts: Pacific Mackerel[]
  6. California Department of Fish and Wildlife: Pelagic Fisheries[]
  7. Wikipedia: Pacific jack mackerel[]
  8. Sea Grant California: Jack Mackerel[]
  9. NOAA Fisheries: West Coast Coastal Pelagic Species[]
  10. Pacific Fishery Management Council: Coastal pelagic species[]
  11. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  12. Nutrition Value: Fish, drained solids, canned, jack, mackerel[]
  13. USDA: Fish, mackerel, Pacific and jack, mixed species, raw[]
  14. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  15. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mercury accumulation in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in a Florida lake[]
  16. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  17. National Institutes of Health: Selenium[]
  18. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  19. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  20. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  21. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  22. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  23. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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