The Atlantic Croaker is one of the most popular fish in the Chesapeake Bay region. This hard fighting, great tasting member of the drum family is frequently caught from the end of April until the beginning of September. Though sometimes considered a panfish, it isn't unusual to catch some exceeding 12 inches. The world record croaker weighed over nine pounds.
Pier and motor boat anglers rely on the tried and true double hook bottom rig. The advantage, other than the ability to catch two fish at the same time, is to try two different baits at the same time. Squid is the universal bait for croaker. Bloodworm tends to work well early in the season. Peeler and hard crab work better in the summer. Anglers have had good luck with shrimp, nightcrawlers, and cut bait. Because croaker are bottom feeders, scented lures and synthetic baits are effective as well.
Most anglers refuse to use anything lighter than a 6 foot medium action rod and reel combo with 12 to 20 lb test. This is due in part to the strength and the way these fish fight. Unlike popular freshwater species, croaker make hard, intentional bites and try to stay on the bottom. I enjoy kayak and wade fishing with lighter tackle and lures for more thrilling battles.
The Friends of York River State Park invite you to put your skills to the test at their annual Saltwater Fishing Tournament. It will be held on Saturday, May 14 at the Croaker Landing section of the park. The grand prize is $500 with other prizes awarded and a fried chicken lunch for participants. Click on the link or call (757)566-3036 for more details.
Tournament angler or fishing for fun, fresh croaker for dinner is a great prize. Use your favorite breader and hot oil. For a low calorie treat, season and broil them with a squeeze of a lemon wedge. We hope you will visit our state parks and pursue the favorite fish in the region.