Atlantic Croaker

Atlantic croaker are about 12 inches (30 cm) long and weigh 1/2 to 2 pounds (226 g to 0.9 kg) on average. Its distinguishing characteristics include three to five pairs of small barbels or "whiskers" on their chins to help them feel for food on the sea floor; a lateral line that extends to the tip of its caudal (tail) fin; inferior mouth (located to the bottom of the head facing the ground), and brown vertical stripes on its sides. Adults are silver with a pinkish cast, while young are silvery and iridescent. Older fish are brassy in color with vertical brown streaks formed by spots that are on their scales.

The Atlantic croaker is a very important commercial fish. Millions of pounds are caught and sold every year in the United States and exported to other countries. The annual catch of croaker has declined in the past few years, probably due to over fishing. The best times for fishing for Atlantic croaker are from summer into the fall. They are easily caught on bait (dead shrimp) when fishing on the bottom. Small Atlantic croaker are used as a bait fish to catch other fish, especially spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosis) and crabs.

Atlantic croaker "croak" by vibrating their swim bladders with special muscles as part of their spawning ritual. A swim bladder is a pocket full of air inside the fish that helps keep it afloat and facing upright. This behavior attracts females. Along the Gulf Coast, they reach sexual maturity at about one year old. This varies in other areas. Spawning season is in the fall, with a peak between August and October. During spawning season, females will release between 100,000 and 2 million eggs, each about 0.35 mm in diameter. After hatching, the larvae (immature stage) drift toward land. They are abundant on soft bottoms, such as mud, where there are large amounts of detritus for them to feed on. The Atlantic croaker's diet includes shrimp, crabs, and detritus (dead and decomposing plant and animal matter).

Atlantic croaker can live up to eight years. Their predators include striped bass, shark, spotted seatrout, other croakers, and humans. Croaker that live in the northern part of their range mature later and live longer than those in the southern part of their range. Because of predation, more than 95% of the Atlantic croaker population dies every year. Atlantic croaker should not be eaten raw because they may pass trematodes (parasites) to humans. The croaker is closely related to spotted seatrout and red drum.

Atlantic croaker prefer estuaries and bays through the spring and summer, then travel offshore in the fall to breed.

The Atlantic croaker is found on the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts southward and throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

Species Information

Scientific Name:Micropogonias undulatus
Environment:Inshore, Surf
Ideal Temp:48-90°F (9–32°C)
Technique:Bottom Fishing
Lure Type:Bottom Rig
World Record:3.94 kg (8 lb 11 oz) Chesapeake Bay, Virgina, USA 17-Aug-2007 Norman T. Jenkins
Other Names:Hard Heads, King Billies, Grumblers, croaker

Latest Atlantic Croaker Fishing Reports and Spots

Kiptopeke Concrete Ships - 9/18/2021 3:40:39 PM

Kiptopeke Concrete Ships has some decent Croaker, Striped Bass, and Black Sea Bass on them.  (View)

Kowabunga - 9/10/2021 8:51:00 PM

What a SWELL week! The bar hasn't been crossable these past few days to get out into the ocean but that doesn't mean there hasn't been any acti (View)

9-8-2021 - 8/8/2021 9:57:00 AM

Good morning everyone. Snook fishing in the inlets has been pretty solid with live Croakers seeming to do the best though jig fishermen are cat (View)

August 2021 - 8/31/2021 9:58:34 PM

Perhaps we should rename our fishing trips to catching trips… The final month of our summer season has continued the trend of reeling in some sp (View)

9-1-21 - 9/1/2021 9:44:49 AM

Good morning everyone. Snook season is now open and early results have been quite good. Fort Pierce Inlet and the interior bridges yielded good (View)

TW’s Daily Fishing Report - 8/16/2021 12:57:46 PM

Please send all pictures and questions to Today is a great day to get out and go fishing! Stop by and pick up all your fishin (View)

Perseverance or Was it the Red Hooks? - 8/11/2021 4:27:00 PM

 We're having some really nice August mornings although it does get heated up as we get closer to noon and today was no exception. I had met Bo (View)

Lots of Action On Our Fishing Charters OBX 8/9/21 - 8/9/2021 9:21:55 AM

We are having lots of action on all of our charter fishing trips here on the OBX. Full day half day and our Sportsman trips are doing very well (View)

TW’s Daily Fishing Report - 7/31/2021 9:40:49 AM

Please send all pictures and questions to The piers had a good day with SEA MULLET SPOT CROAKER BLACK DRUM and SPADEFISH. Fro (View)

TW’s Daily Fishing Report - 8/1/2021 11:11:31 AM

Please send all pictures and questions to The piers had catches of SPOT CROAKER and SEA MULLET small BLACK DRUM and SPADEFISH (View)