The popular croaker is at the top of the list of favorite fishes for anglers, both beginners and experienced alike. This fish is named after its unique characteristic— its croaking sound. Get to know more about croakers down below!
The croaker, also known as the hardhead fish, is one of the most popular saltwater-dwelling fish in Virginia. This fish has a silvery body with a pinkish glow and a belly that can be silvery or whitish. Brassy brown spots forming stripes are observed in its back and dorsal fin, which makes it look slightly like the marine counterpart of dalmatians. They are also observed to have deep notches on their dorsal fins.
Croakers can live for about 7 to 8 years. They can grow to a length of 18-20 inches but some can grow up to 24 inches. Croakers can also grow to a weight of about 3 pounds on average. Croakers are a member of the drum family which is known for their unique sound-emitting mechanisms and they are the loudest from the family. This fish is a bottom-dwelling fish and prefers sandy or muddy areas, whether it be shallow or deep waters.
When and Where to Catch Croakers?
Croakers visit the waters of Chesapeake and Virginia from March to October and leave during the winter. This fish is at a stable population rate so you will be able to spot one quite easily, again just look for those muddy and sandy areas. Since croakers have a favorite time frame, it would be best to fish during the months they favor so you can be guaranteed a catch.
Before you fish, it is important to know their whereabouts: they can be seen across the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Beach in general such as at the Sea Gull Pier and Lynnhaven Pie. They don’t mind if the waters are shallow or deep, if there’s a muddy or sandy spot right there, they would likely be seen chilling out in that area. You can also look for areas where the fish would most likely go to when hunting prey.
Croakers can be smaller than other popular fishes, but don’t underestimate them because they can still put up a fight. Catching croakers is similar to catching other bottom-dwelling fishes such as the striped bass. Common methods used in catching croakers are baiting and bottom rigging. Popular and high success rate baits include worms (bloodworms, bristle worms), mollusks, crustaceans (small crabs such as peeler crabs), and squid strips. You can also use multiple hooks for a bottom rig as anglers find this method with a high catch rate.
Catching croakers are also seen to be effective during the evening hours as they are more active during the night. Also take note that if you want to catch a big croaker, you must go to greater depths of water for you to have more chances.
Enjoying your Catch
Your croaker catching experience would be incomplete without enjoying the taste of your catch. The croaker is known to be bony but this characteristic is easily toppled since its meat tastes sweet and full-flavored than other fishes and the fact that its flesh is lean and firm. Croaker’s meat also contains an average amount of nutrition such as omega-3, protein, calories, and some fat.
Since enjoying your catch is the culmination of your croaker fishing experience, you may think about what methods of cooking are suitable for croaker’s flesh. While you can certainly experiment with your croaker, recommended cooking methods are the following: pan-frying, roasting, braising, grilling, and even baking.
Experiment with the right cooking method for you and see what’s the method that best unleashes the croaker’s full flavor, sweetness, and great meat texture.
Enjoy your catch!