The croaker, otherwise known as a hardhead, is common in the coastal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Anglers target the fish because of the combination of taste and fighting ability. Croakers are abundant and therefore fill fisherman’s coolers when targeting the species. Here is what you need to know about the Atlantic Croaker Fish. 

How To Identify A Croaker Fish

The croaker’s body shares a similar shape to that of a redfish. Despite the identical form, the coloration is opposite. 

Hence the name croaker, the fish is notorious for exuding a load croaking sound when caught and handled by anglers. The sound is easily distinguishable and occurs by the fish vibrating the swim bladders. 

Croaker’s bodies range between pink, silver, and gold depending on the clarity of the water. The upper portion of the fish contains dark wavy lines. Beneath the mouth is barbels extending from the lower jaw. A deep cut divides the dorsal fin into two sections. Lastly, the tail is flat and does not contain a fork. 

How Big Do Croaker Fish Grow

Anglers targeting croaker fish most frequently catch them ranging between seventeen and twenty-one inches. However, it is not uncommon for the fish to exceed twenty-three inches in length. 

As far as weight is concerned, the fish to the south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, most frequently weigh less than three pounds averaging one pound. The croaker provides ample entertainment for anglers when fought by rod and reel despite the small size. 

What Is The Range Of A Croaker Fish

The croaker has an extensive range along the east coast of the United States. Anglers catch croakers from as far north as Massachusetts down through the southern portions of Florida. Commercial and recreational fisherman harvest the fish through its range. 

What Is The Habitat Of A Croaker Fish

When it comes to habitat, anglers catch croakers on sand, mud, or shell bottoms both inshore and offshore. 

The croaker is challenging to pinpoint because they frequent shallow estuaries and deep offshore waters, unlike redfish and sea trout common to oyster beds and marsh grass. 

Croakers are reeled in from the bottom of channels, sounds, and off of sandy beaches, which eludes that they are transient but prefer the open water compared to structure. 

Is Croaker A Bottom Feeder

Yes, the croaker fish is a bottom feeder. The barbels beneath the chin are an indication that the fish prefers to feed on the seafloor compared to suspended or at the surface. 

The croaker scours the bottom in search of the next meal, including shrimp, fish, or mollusk. Croakers bite baits presented on the seafloor. Avoid utilizing floats when targeting the croaker fish. 

How Do You Catch Croaker

Croaker provides fun for experienced and inexperienced anglers. While the fish does not make spectacular leaps or runs, croakers are strong, considering their small stature. 

As mentioned before, croakers feed primarily on the seafloor; therefore, anglers should focus on dropping baits to the bottom.

Rod And Reel Combinations

Considering the size of the fish, avoid utilizing fishing combinations that are excessive in weight. Light to medium action spinning rod combinations is best suited for catching croaker. A second option is baitcasters atop a medium-weight rod. 


When determining the proper tackle, consider the water’s depth and the strength of the current. Connect a weight on the mainline with a size six or eight hook tied beneath the lead. Avoid excessive leads as you will be less likely to feel the fish’s bite. 


The croaker readily dines live or dead shrimp, fish, squid, fish chunks, or crabs. Apply the bait of your choice to the hook and drop it to the bottom. 

Best Method For Catching Croaker

Avoid keeping the boat in motion; still fishing is highly effective when targeting croaker fish. Anchor the boat off of beaches, in channels, or deep sounds. Drop the baits down to the bottom and wait for the fish to strike. Move from location to location as the bite slows. 

Are Croaker Good To Eat

Yes, croaker make excellent table fare. When describing the taste and texture of the croaker, the fillets are lean, white, flaky, and mild. Croaker belongs to the drum family, and all are notorious for producing excellent delicious fillets. 

When cooking croakers, the best methods include adding seasoning before broiling, baking, or deep frying with a side of tartar sauce for dipping. 

Are You Heading Croaker Fishing In Your Coastal Region

While other drums in the family provide a more formidable fight, the croaker holds its own. Despite the minimal yield per fillet, the taste is excellent. Focus on catching croaker fish at the bottom of sounds, channels, and off the shores of beaches. The croaker isn’t a picky eater; therefore, don’t be specific about bait selection. Lastly, bring along a bucket of ice and pick up a fishing license before casting a line.