A member of the Sciaenidae family, the white croaker is a small North American Paciﬁc coast ﬁsh. The common name “croaker” is derived from the voluntary deep croaking noises made when the ﬁsh raps a muscle against the swim bladder, which acts as an ampliﬁer. The resultant distinctive drumming noise can be heard from a far distance.
Although the ﬂesh is edible, the white croaker is considered a nuisance, being easily hooked on most any type of live bait. Like its cousin the queenﬁsh (Seriphus politus; see: Queenﬁsh), many white croaker are caught accidentally by anglers.
IdentificationThe body of the white croaker is elongate and compressed. Its head is oblong and bluntly rounded, and its mouth is somewhat underneath the head. A deep notch separates the two dorsal ﬁns. Its coloring is iridescent brown to yellowish on the back, becoming silvery below. Faint, wavy lines appear over the silvery parts. The ﬁns are yellow to white.
The white croaker is one of ﬁve California croaker that have subterminal mouths. They can be distinguished from the California corbina (Menticirrhus undulatus; see: Corbina, California) and the yellowﬁn croaker (Umbrina roncador; see: Croaker, Yellowﬁn) by the absence of a barbel. The 12 to 15 spines in the first dorsal fin serve to distinguish white croaker from all the other croaker with subterminal mouths, as none of these has more than 11 spines in this ﬁn.