Jack Crevalle range along the eastern Atlantic coastline, from Nova Scotia to as far south as the Yucatan Peninsula, including the warm coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. They are also active in great numbers throughout the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Virgin Islands. In the eastern Atlantic they can be found from Portugal to Angola. From spring through early fall they are most active throughout the south Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, among bays, lagoons, along inlet jetties and break walls, and in the lower reaches of tidal bays.
These fish have large eyes and a rounded, blunt-nosed head – similar to dolphinfish, though with less coloration – and flanks beginning whitish-gray then darkening along the top. Shiny to dark, silvery sides show hues of blue-green to green-gold, giving way to white bellies outlined in bright yellow from lower jaw joint to tail. They are just as stout, but distinguished from other Jacks by dark spots on the tip of the gill covers and beside the bases of pectoral fins. Large specimens are common between 20-30 pounds, but their huge schools are usually composed of many feisty individuals weighing one to six pounds. The IGFA record for a Jack Crevalle is 57 pounds, 14 ounces, caught near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Bigger specimens Jack Crevalle are less commonly found in huge schools, preferring to hunt with others of similar size. The largest specimens swim in tighter pods of three to ten fish, or tend to remain solitary; usually in the open ocean, river mouths or in broad sounds.
These voracious predators are relentless when feeding, often herding mullet, menhaden, and other schools of small baitfish, then attacking together from all sides and beneath. When surface feeding, schools of Jack Crevalle have been seen to cover areas as large as an acre or more. After spawning occurs offshore, prime spots to locate these fish include ledges, reefs, wrecks, as well as inshore channels and holes; or any areas where strong tides and swift currents toss and disorient baitfish. They feed during the day on a variety of invertebrates and fishes, and may be preyed upon by surface-feeders such as striped marlin, finfish, and even seabirds.
Known to literally run schools of baitfish out of the water and onto land, the extreme aggression and determination of the Jack Crevalle is not limited to pursuit of a meal. Once hooked, these are also some of the toughest-fighting salt water fish, renowned for tremendous bull-like runs. This fish rarely goes aerial, however, preferring instead to dive quickly and run hard, testing rod, line, and arm strength alike. They can be poisonous to eat which seems oddly appropriate.