The Atlantic croaker is most abundant in temperate waters of the western Atlantic Ocean. Their range is from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico. These fish spend their summer months in coastal waters however in the fall they travel to deeper water to breed. They prefer muddy or sandy bottoms. It is a large family of fish including such members as the Texas, the yellowtail and the most common, the golden croaker. The croaker is a member of the drum family, which includes spot, weakfish, red drum, black drum and spotted sea trout. Some regional names for the Atlantic croaker are roncadina, spot fin, hardhead, king billies and grumblers. Commercial fishermen find the croaker very important with millions of pounds harvested every year.
The Atlantic croaker has silvery sides with gold vertical bars created by dark spots when they are younger. As they age their color turns more to a bronze or brown color and the vertical stripes tend to fade. They average 1 to 4 pounds and 12 inches in length however they have been known to reach 9 pounds and 27 inches in length. They mature in 2-3 years and their lifespan is about 7-8 years. There are three to five pair of small barbells under their chin hence they use it to find food on the bottom of the ocean. Their mouth faces downward and can be formed into a tube to suction food off the bottom. The croaker receives its name from the ability to make a low croaking noise by contracting muscles around its swim bladder.
Croaker has a tender flesh with a mild sweet flavor. It should not be eaten raw. The best way to cook it is to sauté, pan fry, oven fry or broil. Click on one of the following links for directions for cooking.
OVEN FRY FISH
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