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Croaker, Atlantic

Micropogonias undulatus
Family: Drums (Sciaenidae)

Other Names:

Croaker, Golden Croaker, Granier, Atlantic Croaker

Range and Habitat:

The Atlantic croaker is found Gulfwide, in estuaries and out offshore in waters as deep as 325 feet. It is found on sand and mud bottoms inshore and a wide variety of bottoms offshore. Larger croakers show some attraction to offshore oil and gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Identification and Biology:

Body color is basically silver, with either a pinkish or golden hue. The upper body is heavily marked with small flecks arranged in wavy vertical lines. The mouth is somewhat underslung. The Atlantic croaker can be separated from the spot by its lack of a spot behind the head and its convex tail edge, in which the longest rays are in the center, compared to the concave, almost forked tail of the spot.

The Atlantic croaker gets its name from the croaking sounds that males can make by vibrating their air bladders. Males use the sound to attract females during spawning season. This is a characteristic of members of the drum family. The Atlantic croaker’s abundance is due to a high tolerance for a wide range of conditions, including low salinities, and a wide range of temperatures. They spawn offshore in the winter. The free-floating eggs and larvae are at the mercy of tides and currents to carry them inshore to the estuarine nursery grounds so important to their survival and growth, They are bottom-feeding fishes, eating worms, crustaceans, mollusks, small fish, and detritus.

Food Value:

Very good. Atlantic croakers also make excellent live bait for other larger fishes. Small live croakers are an especially good baitfish for large spotted seatrout.

Description By: Jerald Horst, Associate Professor, Fisheries - LSU AgCenter