Croakers make excellent bait and are also fun to catch, especially as a novice angler. They are great when trout fishing and are pretty easy to catch as long as you use the right methods. Since they’re in most bodies of water and come in abundant populations, you won’t have a hard time.
So if you’re wondering how to catch croakers in Florida, read on! I’ll show you the top methods and tips you can follow.
How to Catch Croakers In Florida
The croaker is part of the drum family, found throughout the entire state. They make popular live baits, especially during the spring! They are saltwater species that range from central Florida up to the Atlantic Coast to New Jersey, making them popular to catch in the state.
You can either purchase them as bait or catch them on your own, and if you’d like to do the latter, follow these tips:
1. What Bait to Use?
Croakers have subterminal mouths, feeding near the bottom. There are various baits to use for them, and some of the best are the following:
- Fresh shrimp, which is popular to use in southern areas
- Live and/or synthetic bloodworms, one of the most popular and effective, attracting fish well
- Squid strips, which is the most common bait for its piece and availability
- Various sections of crab, especially peelers (shedder crabs)
- Some other natural baits include sea clams, minnows, quahog clams, among others
Pro-tip: croakers prefer squid strip and cut bait! After you catch some decently sized croakers, try using bigger and heavier squid strips or baits (up to five inches long) to get bigger ones.
Croakers will also be enticed with artificial lures if you prefer those. Use small spoons and/or ducktails. However, you’re best off with live bait!
You can find any of these baits from your local grocery or fishing store. Or, you can catch them yourself and be sure to handle them properly as some of them bite!
2. What Hook to Use?
As for the type of fishing equipment to use when catching croakers, I recommend that you use a two-hook rig that uses size 6 or 8 hooks. You can also opt to use No. 1 or 2 hooks, as anything over that is too much hook for smaller croakers.
Even if croakers are a bit on the small side (though they can grow bigger), they are great fighters, so you’ll want something strong.
If your goal is to catch and release croakers, then I recommend using circle hooks. When catching them, resist jerking the hook and rapidly tighten your fishing line instead.
When you want to speed things up a bit, opt to use three or four-hook rigs. Bait both top and bottom hooks using large squid strips and the middle with small pieces of bloodworms. This will definitely entice a lot of croakers for a sure catch.
As for other fishing equipment, I suggest that you use a light spinning rod and reel for ease of catching. They fight a bit, so be prepared with strength and power in mind.
3. Where to Fish For Croakers
Since they are in deeper water for feeding, try going between six to ten feet underwater, where you can see distinct drop-offs and where seagrass begins to disappear. You can use a fish finder, which is very useful for catching croakers and other fish species.
You can find small croakers around shore fishing spots and area piers. If you aim for bigger croakers, find them in deeper waters. You may find croakers AND spots, which are sometimes mixed in similar schools.
4. Take Care!
As I said, croakers are small and great for novice anglers to start off with. They even make good fish for kids to catch, if you plan to teach them!
With that said, you have to be careful when children are handling croakers. They have sharp barbs at the end of their dorsal fins, and its gill plates also have slightly sharp spikes. These can hurt smaller and more sensitive hands, so teach your children how to handle fish or make sure you are the one holding it once they catch it.
Do you want to learn more about croakers and how to catch them properly? Check out this informative video:
Wrapping It Up
When aiming for the big one, you should get good live bait like croakers! Fishing for croakers isn’t difficult, but it does require good technique and skill. With the right methods and knowledge in mind, you can enjoy croaker fishing and using them as bait for bigger catches come spring season.
I hope that these tips on how to catch croakers in Florida helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and try following any of these methods for successful catches.