Atlantic Croaker

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
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.

Latest Atlantic Croaker Fishing Reports and Spots

Outer Banks Fishing Reports 6/25/22 - 6/25/2022 1:44:33 PM

Fishing on the beaches of the Outer Banks has been pretty good. We have heard of spot croakers kingfish bluefish and few red drum. About the sa (View)

We Went To The Bank - 6/15/2022 7:42:00 PM

 I fished again with the Sorah's today Chris and his dad Ken but this time Chris's wife Melanie joined the crew. We met north up at Dee Dee Bar (View)

Current Tidal - 6/8/2022 11:43:00 AM

What did one fish say to the other? Keep your mouth shut and you won't get caught! Offshore rolled in with limits of yellow fin tuna and mahi-m (View)

Limits Galore - 5/26/2022 9:12:00 PM

Yellow fin tuna are THICK ya’ll. Mahi mahi is around with a chance at a blue marlin as well. Spanish mackerel ribbon fish cobia and croakers we (View)

Saturday May 28 2022 - 5/28/2022 9:41:22 PM

Blues sharks rays and croaker down at ramp 55. Plenty of puppy drum and specks in the sound. The post Saturday May 28 2022 appeared first on Re (View)

Hatteras Island Fishing Report - 5/27/2022 5:49:54 PM

Todays high was 77. Winds are currently out of the SSW at about 20mph. Gusts will get up to 39mph this evening. When it wasn’t sprinkling it wa (View)

Tuesday's Tango - 5/3/2022 10:29:00 PM

Today we had 18 offshore 2 nearshore and 1 inshore boat get out and they all brought back some good catches~! Offshores brought in king mackere (View)

Hatteras Island Fishing Report - 5/3/2022 10:11:55 PM

High temperature for today was 77F here in Frisco! Chance of rain tomorrow mostly in the evening. We have winds out of the SW tonight at 17mph. (View)

Count 'em - 5/3/2022 4:46:00 PM

Before the day was over we were trying to count up all the species we caught:  Sheepshead Seatrout Redfish Croaker Toad Fish Ray Shark Mangrove (View)

3 Generations Produce a Big Red - 4/24/2022 9:34:00 AM

 I wrapped up my week yesterday fishing with the Tilltoson's - Granddad Dan his son Paul and grandson Jack. I met them up at the Dee Dee Bartel (View)