A member of the Sciaenidae (drum and croaker) family, the spotfin croaker is a small species caught by bay, surf, and pier anglers and highly valued as table fare.
IdentificationThe body of the spotﬁn croaker is elongate but heavy forward. The upper proﬁle of the head is steep and slightly curved and abruptly rounded at the very blunt snout. The mouth is subterminal, being underneath the head. The color is silvery gray, with a bluish luster above and white below. There are dark wavy lines on the sides and a large black spot at the base of the pectoral ﬁn.
The pectoral ﬁn spot, the subterminal mouth, and the absence of a ﬂeshy barbel distinguish the spotfin croaker from other California croaker. Small specimens may be confused with small white croaker, although dorsal ﬁn counts differ. The spotﬁn has 11 or fewer (usually 10) dorsal ﬁn spines; the white croaker has 12 to 15. Large male spotﬁns in breeding colors are known as “golden croaker.”