The Atlantic Croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is most commonly found in sounds and estuaries from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Atlantic Croaker is closely related to the Black Drum, the Red Drum, the Silver Perch, the Spot Croaker, the Spotted Sea Trout and the Weakfish
Information & Facts:
The Atlantic Croaker gets its name from the noise the fish makes by vibrating strong muscles against its swim bladder, which acts as a resonating chamber much like a ball.
It is the loudest of the ‘drum‘ family. The fish is often called ‘hardhead’, and smaller ones can be referred to as ‘pin heads’. During spawning season (August to October), Atlantic Croakers turn a deep golden color – sometimes attracting the name ‘Golden Croaker’.
In August, small young Croakers enter bays and travel to low-salinity and freshwater creeks and then move to deeper parts of tidal rivers for the winter.
Juveniles leave the bay with the adults the following autumn. When they are full-grown (around 2 to 3 years old), they can reach 18 to 20 inches in length and weigh 4 to 5 pounds – on average they are around 1/2 to 2 pounds. They can live up to 8 years.
The Atlantic Croaker is native to coastal waters in the western Atlantic Ocean. Its range extends from Massachusetts to Mexico and includes the northern half of the Caribbean Sea. It is also thought to live on the coasts of southern Brazil and Argentina. It is usually found in bays and estuaries over sandy or muddy bottoms where it feeds on polychaete worms, crustaceans and small fish. The Croaker visits the Chesapeake Bay from March through October and is found throughout the Bay as far north as the Susquehanna Flats.