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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: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

September 2022 - 10/1/2022 9:35:14 AM

September’s summary from our captain team?  “GREAT!” Black sea bass are still the highlight of our trips with some sizable ones being brought in (View)

TW’s Daily Fishing Report - 9/18/2022 2:50:26 PM

Sunday September 18 2022 Great fishing continues this weekend! In the Surf anglers have had good luck with Drum Bluefish Sea Mullet Pompano Span (View)

Hatteras Island Fishing Report - 9/11/2022 10:57:15 PM

Today’s high was 84. Winds have been light to moderate. Currently it’s 78 feels like 88 with S wind around 5mph. Tomorrow’s weather looks simil (View)

August 2022 - 9/1/2022 9:24:48 AM

August brought in fantastic inshore & offshore catches with some incredible diversity! Inshore:  croaker ribbonfish sheepshead triggerfish floun (View)

Good Fishing All Around Outer Banks 8/28/22 - 8/28/2022 7:41:54 AM

We are having some good fishing all around the Outer Banks. Surf fishing we have been catching red drum spot croaker and some bluefish. On our (View)

Gone Fish'n at Amelia Island - 8/19/2022 5:37:00 PM

I picked up Robert Stetner and his fishing buddy David out at the Oyster Bay marina this morning and we made short trip around the corner to fi (View)

8/20/22 - 8/20/2022 8:59:21 PM

The Spanish have been hitting at ramp 43 44 & 45. Blues at ramp 43 and 44. We continue to hear about Speckled Trout and puppy drum in the sound (View)

Birthday Kid - 8/18/2022 3:15:00 PM

Although the weather forecast last night predicted a good chance of rain for this morning we had clear skies the whole time! Garland Clark and (View)

8/9/2022 Tuesday - 8/8/2022 10:01:53 PM

**The walkover at Ramp 45 is now open and were catching good number of Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel this morning. Spanish Blues and sharks at (View)

July 2022 - 8/2/2022 9:24:48 PM

Inshore fishing has been very diverse with some nice catches of croakers roundhead spanish mackerel bluefish and ribbonfish! Tilefish & black se (View)