Simple Tips on How to Catch Croaker & Why They’re Prized

By Andy Whitcomb

Sep 05, 2017

The Atlantic croaker is a feisty small fish that is very common and not difficult to catch. Here are some tips.

Phote credit Jeff Woleslagle 

There are several species of fish that are called “croaker” but perhaps the one most commonly known by that name is the Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus.) It gets its name from the sound it can make using its air bladder.   Although it may only reach 24 inches, the Atlantic Croaker is a highly prized.

Learning how to catch croaker is not difficult for a couple of reasons. First, it is very common fish with a range from Massachusetts to Texas according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. And second, there is a wide variety of croaker bait that seems to work well.

The croaker has a subterminal mouth and so feeds near the bottom. When considering the best bait for croaker, I’ve caught them on shrimp but avid angler, Jeff Woleslagle, may use bloodworms, both live and synthetic, squid strips, or sections of crab. As for croaker fishing rigs, Jeff likes to use a two-hook rig with size 6 or 8 hooks. “To me they are the saltwater equivalent of a smallmouth bass,” he shared. “For their size, they truly fight with all they have.” Any fish that earns comparison to the renowned smallmouth bass is getting high praise, indeed.

Still another reason anglers like to learn how to catch croaker is that they are rather tasty. However, if catch and release is the goal, consider circle hooks. The trick with the circle hook is to resist jerking the hook. Just rapidly tighten the line instead.

A great way to learn how to fish for Atlantic croaker is to visit a coastal bait store.  Here, you can find great places for fishing access and learn all about the license requirements and regulations.  Then, with just some bait and a light spinning rod and reel, you too may experience this spunky fish.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.