More oceanic than other Jack species, the Almaco Jack inhabits both tropical and subtropical waters, from southern California to Peru in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and from Kenya to South Africa in the Indian and western Pacific. In the Atlantic Ocean this fish is most prominently found from Cape Cod in the United States to northern Argentina. Some species have also been spotted in the Mediterranean, as well as waters off Mariana, New Caledonia and, more rarely, the English coast
The Almaco Jack is generally dusky-hued with sides decorated by faint olive or amber colored stripes. Its football-shaped body is less elongated and more flattened than most other species of Jack. Dark brown or dark blue-green coloration is indicative of Almaco’s upper bodies and lower fins. Pelvic fins are white, while the belly is lightly shaded, sometimes almost lavender or tending towards brassy. This fish is distinguished by a black, diagonal band which begins at the upper lip and crosses the eye towards the top of the head. Its high dorsal fin lowers to a small gap then continues tapering in small spikes that reach the tail. Its forked tail fins are elongated to resemble two sickles. Most commonly taken at weights between 15-30 pounds, it is able to get much larger, reaching upwards of 90 pounds. The world record for Almaco Jack is 78 pounds.
Rarely seen near shore or reefs, Albaco Jacks prefer to cruise alone or in small groups beyond the surf. Their ideal habitat is open water ranging from 15 to 400 feet in depth, often stalking offshore oil and gas platforms, wrecks and reefs. This fast-swimming predator feeds day and night on invertebrates such as squid, baitfish, and other smaller fish. It is purported to spawn offshore at various times throughout the spring, summer, and fall, depending on water temperature and latitude. Juveniles are most often found living among sargassum beds or other floating objects.
This fish is respected for having great stamina. It is a strong, stubborn runner that will continually resist, pull, and dive deep, providing great battles that can last a long time. Almaco Jacks have an interesting habit of removing skin-based parasites by rubbing against passing sharks, and have even been known to mistake the identity of scuba divers, doing the same to them. Once landed and brought to shore this fish tastes especially good when grilled or broiled.