All around the Chesapeake – Croakers Busting Loose!

 

Cocktail Shrimp Croakers / The Chesapeake photo

Cocktail Shrimp brings in plenty of Croakers! THE CHESAPEAKE photo by Cap’n Larry Jarboe

 

The pursuit of croakers (aka hardheads) is in earnest from the upper tidal reaches of the Patuxent River in Calvert County to the Potomac River side of Charles and St. Mary’s.

In addition to the many Southern Maryland tidal tributaries, croakers can also be caught across a wide swath of Chesapeake Bay.

This abundant species of fish continues to gain in popularity and sometimes seems to challenge even the high regard locals and visitors have for catching rockfish (striped bass).

Successful croaker fishing has a more direct approach with fewer tackle options than those used for stripers. Readymade top and bottom rigs fitted with two hooks and enough weight to keep the baits on the bottom are favored tackle for croaker fishing. Deeper waters with stronger currents are good locales to consider using beaded spinner hooks.

Some of our larger croakers are caught on spinner hooks. Others create their own bottom fishing rigs for croaker simply by tying no-slip loops for the hooks and sinker or snap swivel to attach weights of varying sizes.

Bobber fishing with no other tackle but a hook can be used for croakers when they come into the shallow shore side areas of Southern Maryland tributaries.

Late evenings and night time fishing can produce some of the biggest croakers, when high tide and cooler temperatures brings them close to shore.

Bloodworms are by far the most popular bait for croaker fishing but their expense sometimes leads anglers to try other options.

Squid, cut into strips or used as chunk baits, is used by many fishing for croaker and can result in plenty of catches.

Other baits include peeler or soft crab, shrimp, artificial Fish-bites in bloodworm or squid flavors and according to one of our son’s fishing buddies, even small chunks of hot dogs.

Fishing in the chum slicks for stripers and bluefish can also result in nice croaker catches.

Croakers are attracted to the ground menhaden oil just like other fish species and will readily bit small chunks of fresh cut menhaden drifted back into the slick.

No terminal tackle should be used for this type of fishing; just tie the hook directly to 12 to 15 pound test leader and let it drift back into the chum.

A small pinch weight is sometimes used 2 to 3 feet up from the hook, when the tide is running so strong that the hook and bait float on the surface.

The abundance of croakers in recent years can make some novice anglers believe you can fish a line almost anywhere and hook up with them. While they are plenty of croakers to be caught across Southern Maryland waters, like any species, they will congregate in locales that provide them cover and food.

Oyster shell bottom or other obstructions that attract the buildup of marine growth that attract other sea life are often where you find croakers.

Concentrations of sea grass can be a place where croakers stay and feed. For the most part, they move and feed as a school, but some of the larger croakers may be found in more concentrated groups.

The Wicomico River near Quade’s Store in St. Mary’s County continues to be croaker central for much of the season, but so do other locations such as waters near the Ragged Point Bar on the Virginia side of the Potomac, Cornfield Harbor just inside Point Lookout and the Patuxent River near Benedict and Sandgates.

In the heat of the day, anglers looking for bottom fishing action will often fish the deeper channel edge waters for signs of croaker schools feeding on the bottom.

As the summer heat takes over as the predominant climate, night time and early evening will be the favored times to hook up with Southern Maryland croaker action. The result can be angling action for the whole family and some great table fare.

Successful croaker fishing has a more direct approach with fewer tackle options than those used for stripers. Readymade top and bottom rigs fitted with two hooks and enough weight to keep the baits on the bottom are favored tackle for croaker fishing. Deeper waters with stronger currents are good locales to consider using beaded spinner hooks.

Some of our larger croakers are caught on spinner hooks. Others create their own bottom fishing rigs for croaker simply by tying no-slip loops for the hooks and sinker or snap swivel to attach weights of varying sizes.

Bobber fishing with no other tackle but a hook can be used for croakers when they come into the shallow shore side areas of Southern Maryland tributaries.

Late evenings and night time fishing can produce some of the biggest croakers, when high tide and cooler temperatures brings them close to shore.

 

Bloodworms are by far the most popular bait for croaker fishing but their expense sometimes leads anglers to try other options.

Squid, cut into strips or used as chunk baits, is used by many fishing for croaker and can result in plenty of catches.

Other baits include peeler or soft crab, shrimp, artificial Fish-bites in bloodworm or squid flavors and according to one of our son’s fishing buddies, even small chunks of hot dogs.

Fishing in the chum slicks for stripers and bluefish can also result in nice croaker catches.

Croakers are attracted to the ground menhaden oil just like other fish species and will readily bit small chunks of fresh cut menhaden drifted back into the slick.

No terminal tackle should be used for this type of fishing; just tie the hook directly to 12 to 15 pound test leader and let it drift back into the chum.

A small pinch weight is sometimes used 2 to 3 feet up from the hook, when the tide is running so strong that the hook and bait float on the surface.

 

Buddy Scala with a fine croaker. Photo for The Chesapeake Today by Steve Scala

Buddy Scala with a fine croaker. Photo for The Chesapeake Today by Steve Scala

The abundance of croakers in recent years can make some novice anglers believe you can fish a line almost anywhere and hook up with them. While they are plenty of croakers to be caught across Southern Maryland waters, like any species, they will congregate in locales that provide them cover and food.

Oyster shell bottom or other obstructions that attract the buildup of marine growth that attract other sea life are often where you find croakers.

Concentrations of sea grass can be a place where croakers stay and feed. For the most part, they move and feed as a school, but some of the larger croakers may be found in more concentrated groups.

The Wicomico River near Quade’s Store in St. Mary’s County continues to be croaker central for much of the season, but so do other locations such as waters near the Ragged Point Bar on the Virginia side of the Potomac, Cornfield Harbor just inside Point Lookout and the Patuxent River near Benedict and Sandgates.

In the heat of the day, anglers looking for bottom fishing action will often fish the deeper channel edge waters for signs of croaker schools feeding on the bottom.

As the summer heat takes over as the predominant climate, night time and early evening will be the favored times to hook up with Southern Maryland croaker action. The result can be angling action for the whole family and some great table fare.

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