The Atlantic croakers have arrived on the Outer Banks. The croaker is an annual and prolific visitor to the Outer Banks waters each summer. And one fish that I look forward to catching. They are silvery to gold with that distinctive croaking sound when brought in. You definitely will not mistake this fish for other species.
I start targeting them in late May or early June when the water temperatures rise into the upper sixties and continue to look for them until early September. They usually travel in schools, so if I catch one, there may be many more close by.
Not sure there is a good tide, but some friends say they seem to bite better on an outgoing tide, But for me, it’s not unusual for me to catch them throughout the day. One thing that I have found is that they like moving water. So watch the tides.
I will usually find them while fishing on the pier. But I have also caught them in the surf and off docks and bridges. There is no indication whether they prefer brackish water or salt but I have caught them in both.
Hard or shell bottoms are best but they also can be found in holes or around structures such as pilings and docks.
My secret spot has always been around boat ramps. Seems these fish are also scavengers looking for a free meal when the boat props stir up the sandy bottoms.
Light to medium rod and reel set up is best. Either type works because the bite is aggressive and the fight is hard. A standard two hook bottom rig is the easiest way to catch them but I have also used silver metal jigs such as small Hopkins or brand named Krocodile lures
Small hooks and just enough weight to hold the bottom work best. They will bite blood worms, shrimp, fish bites, or squid. They will also hit a bit of fresh cut bait. Cut up a small croaker and put just a small piece on the hook.
There is no size restrictions or harvest limits and if they are biting, it will take no time to fill a cooler.
But with any species, even though there is no limit, conservation should always be practiced. Take only what you can use today. Return all others to be caught another day.
Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony