Atlantic Croaker

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Atlantic Croaker

Species Information

Scientific Name:Micropogonias undulatus
Common Names:croaker
Environment:Inshore, Surf
Ideal Temp:48-90°F (9–32°C)

About 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.

Atlantic Croaker Fishing

World Record:3.94 kg (8 lb 11 oz) Chesapeake Bay, Virgina, USA 17-Aug-2007 Norman T. Jenkins
# Fish Caught:8208988 documented in database.
Earliest Record:1/1/1830 12:00:00 AM and located at 28.45915, -96.79089.
Latest Record:6/4/2024 3:44:47 PM and located at 36.20031, -75.76470.
Common Techniques:Bottom Fishing
Popular Lure Types:Bottom Rig
Fishing Spots:278 Atlantic Croaker fishing spots.

Latest Atlantic Croaker Fishing Reports and Spots

Good Bluefish Fishing On Corolla Beach 6/4/24 - 6/4/2024 3:44:47 PM

Good Fishing on the beach in Duck and Corolla. We’re catching bluefish sea mullet spot croakers and trout. The post Good Bluefish Fishing On Co (View)

March 2024 - 4/3/2024 11:29:35 AM

3/4-day trips are baaaacccckkkkk!!!  The tautog bite is heating up and we are amped that the water temperatures are steadily climbing also.  Sma (View)

February 2024 Fishing Report – Stuart FL - 1/31/2024 8:54:02 AM

Inshore Fishing Report January brought a variety of species to our anglers fishing inshore. On one of Capt. Justin Rieger’s recent trips on the (View)

Croaker Beach East - 12/29/2023 8:15:57 PM


December 2023 Fishing Report – Stuart FL - 11/30/2023 11:14:18 AM

Inshore Fishing Report  You can expect to catch a variety of species fishing inshore this time of year with many of our winter species beginnin (View)

August & September 2023 - 10/4/2023 6:54:05 PM

As summer was winding down the fishing was heating up.  August & September have been some of the hottest fishing we’ve had! Our inshore trips fi (View)

Fish Fight'n at Amelia Island - 9/19/2023 7:24:00 PM

 The mornings are getting nicer - Fall is in the air! I met Stephen Googe and his son Graywolf up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle shop this mor (View)

Recfishwest's State-wide Fishing Report 15 September 2023 🎣 - 9/14/2023 11:29:37 PM

96 Recfishwest Newsletter View this email in your browser Recfishwest Fishing Report 15/09/23 Han Yeoh @hanyeoh13 decided to wander the shallow (View)

Birthday Bash on the Water - 9/14/2023 6:34:00 PM

 I fished with the Stein girls today - Ellina Emily Liz and Erin - meeting them early down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. In addition to gettin (View)

Outer Banks Fishing Report 8/25/23 - 8/25/2023 12:45:49 PM

Outer Banks Fishing Report: on the beaches we have been catching spot croakers sea mullet bluefish and a few red drum. Picture of Joey with a 1 (View)