How to Fish With Croaker for Bait


A croaker is a smallish 1- to 2-pound fish that swims in freshwater rivers and streams. It is a useful food fish and there are several recipes around for the sportsman's grill or pan. However, one of the most common uses for croaker is as a baitfish. Trout and grouper find it hard to resist and it is easy for anglers to use. Croakers are part of the drumfish family and usually are bottom-dwelling.

Things You'll Need

  • Live or prepared croaker baitfish
  • Hooks
  • 1- to 2-oz. sinkers

Prepared Bait

  • Catch or buy your croaker baitfish. While they are not as feisty as traditional game fish, catching your own bait gives you a start-to-finish fishing experience.

  • Prepare your baitfish. Cut the croaker into 1-inch pieces for easy handling and keep refrigerated or chilled on ice until you are ready to use it. If you need to store the fish for longer periods between expeditions, keep it whole and put it in the freezer until you need it.

  • Skewer the meat on a hook that is about 12 inches from the sinker. Use 1- to 2-oz. sinkers to keep your croaker bait in the best position, with enough buoyancy to wiggle and bob like a live fish.

  • Troll, when fishing from a boat, at a speed slower than the current to attract the target fish. When fishing from the bank, cast the line into the water and let it sink. When the line is down, slowly reel it in to attract the trout to the moving bait.

Live Bait

  • Use live croakers for lures. They do the job naturally. Catch or buy your live baitfish and keep them in the live well of your fishing boat, or a bait bucket on land.

  • Pick small, active fish. Small fish are easier to cast without whipping them around and killing or damaging them in the process. Pick live croakers smaller than 3 inches. Active fish are a requirement to attract the trout.

  • Avoid overusing a single fish. Anglers tend to try and get the most for the fish they caught or bought. Once a croaker no longer swims hard and heads directly for the bottom when cast, don't use it anymore. A common rule of thumb is one or two casts.

  • Cast the bait out as far as you can, especially if you are fishing on an active shore area with friends, or in a boat with more than a few lines in the water. Do not troll when using live croaker bait. It does not troll well. Trolling off a boat or reeling from the bank is unnecessary with a live bait doing the swimming action on its own.

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  • Photo Credit FISHING FOR TROUT image by brelsbil from
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