White Croaker (Genyonemus lineatus)

White Croaker (Genyonemus lineatus)

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.


The 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.


The average weight is 1 pound. It is believed the white croaker can live up to 15 years, although most live far fewer years.

Food and feeding habits

White croaker consume a variety of fish, squid, shrimp, octopus, worms, small crabs, clams, and other items, living or dead.

Other Names

kingfish, king-fish, king croaker, shiner, Pasadena trout, tommy croaker, little bass; Japanese: shiroguchi.


White croaker range from Magdalena Bay, Baja California, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, but are not abundant north of San Francisco.


Preferring sandy bottoms, white croaker inhabit quiet surf zones, shallow bays, and lagoons. Most of the time they are found in offshore areas at depths of 10 to 100 feet. On rare occasions, they are abundant at depths as great as 600 feet.