Atlantic Croaker

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The name ‘croaker’ is derived from the croaking noise that these fish make by vibrating their swim bladders.


Atlantic croaker average about 12 inches in length and weigh up to four pound with the average fish weighing around two pounds. The distinguishing characteristics of the croaker include three to five pairs of small barbels on their chins to help them feel for food on the sea floor. They have a lateral line that extends to the tip of their tail fin and have a downward facing, sub-terminal mouth. Most croakers will have brown to olive vertical stripes on their sides. Adult specimens will typically have a pinkish to silver cast while younger fish are silvery and iridescent. The name ‘croaker’ is derived from the croaking noise that these fish make by vibrating their swim bladders with special muscles as part of their annual spawning rituals. During spawning season, females will release between 150,000 and 2 million eggs. After hatching, these larval fish will remain very near shore while they feed on detritus.


Atlantic croaker are one of the most abundant fishes in North American coastal waters and can be found on the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts southward throughout the Gulf of Mexico. It is an important commercial fish as well as an important sport fish throughout its range. They prefer estuaries and bays through the spring and summer months, then travel offshore in the fall to breed. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish:

Bays and Estuaries                                                  Breakers

Channel Entrances                                                  Coastal Waters

Deep Shore Water                                                  Jetties and Breakwaters

Man-Made Structures                                             Merging Water

Night Fishing                                                          Piers, Docks and Pilings

Shore Points                                                           Surf and Shore

Reefs, Wrecks and Shoals                                     Saltwater and Tides


A highly sought after species, the croaker can be easily taken from shore, boat, dock or pier using natural baits such as shrimp, clams and squid as well as artificial baits such as jigs and spoons. Croakers make for excellent table fare and are often cooked whole as panfish. The following are fishing methods used to catch this fish:


Drift Fishing                                  Chumming

Surf Casting                                  Still Fishing

Spin Casting                                  Saltwater Jigging