Atlantic Croaker or “hardhead” are popular saltwater fish common in parts of North Carolina, the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and coastal bays of the Mid Atlantic.
The fish get their names because of the “croaking” noise the make when removed from the water. Croaker are hard fighters and prolific feeders. They are caught on a variety of baits and lures.
They are among the first fish to be caught in the spring and are caught over a wide range of habitats. Croaker can be caught from piers, jetties, inlets, bays and from the surf.
In the fall, croaker move into inshore coastal areas where they are sometimes caught in great numbers. As water temperatures continue dropping, croaker move offshore for the winter.
Croaker baits include shrimp, crabs, cut fish, bloodworms, squid, sea clams, and other saltwater baits. Anglers also have success using artificial bait products such as Fishbites bait strips and Berkley Gulp products.
Croaker are known to have wild population fluctuations and have totally disappeared from the region several times in the past.