ATLANTIC CROAKER (Micropogonias undulatus) OTHER NAMES: Croaker, Hardhead RANGE:
Occurs statewide but is more common in the upper half of Florida.
HABITAT: Likes sand or shell bottom. It’s a regular catch in many surf areas but also can be caught from sloughs and channels of inside waters, particularly those with soft bottom.
DESCRIPTION: Similar to the Black Drum in outline, but a much smaller fish. Overall silvery or gold background with sometimes indistinct wavy lines on upper sides. Like the Black Drum, it has small barbels on underside of lower jaw.
SIZE: Averages a pound or less, but sometimes reaches 3 pounds, or perhaps slightly more. World and Florida records 3 pounds, 12 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: Small ones make good panfish; some are large enough to provide fillets. Either way, the flesh is of a mild flavor.
GAME QUALITIES: Scrappy on very light tackle but, unfortunately, many are taken on heavy surf gear. Against a light line, they run fairly well and can also use the waves to good advantage in the surf.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning or baitcasting; light surf outfits. Top baits include live and dead shrimp, sand fleas, fiddler crabs, cut squid, cut fish. Croakers will also take small jigs. The combination of a little jig with a bit of shrimp on the hook is deadly. Croakers Combo Guide
FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing