- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias)
A small fish, Atlantic croaker have moderately elongated and compressed bodies and raised backs near the first dorsal fin. Coloration is green or silvery on the back and side with a faint pinkish-bronze caste. They are white on the belly. There are brassy or brown spots that form wavy lines on the side, above the defined lateral line. There are two dorsal fins, the first short and high and triangular in shape, and the second long and low. There are 6 to 10 small barbels that hang from the chin below the small head. The tail is unforked and shaped much like a broom, with a few rays in the middle that are longer than the rest.
Atlantic croaker are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Florida, including the Gulf of Mexico, and along the South American coast from Surinam to Argentina. Historically, they are most abundant off the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
Primarily a bottom-dwelling inshore species, Atlantic croaker are frequently found in and around estuaries that spill into the sea. They prefer sandy bottoms but can also be found over shells, mud, rocks and gravel. Besides the migration that the northern most members of the species make for spawning, Atlantic croaker seem to migrate northward and inshore during the warmer months and southward and out to sea during the winter. They are tolerant of water temperatures from 35 to 86 F, though large specimens tend to avoid waters cooler than 50 F.
Although they are an inshore fish, many of the species migrate to sea in the late winter and spring to spawn. However, Atlantic croaker in the Gulf of Mexico and other southern latitudes do not seem to make this migration and spawn closer to shore. Females release up to 180,000 eggs, which are fertilized externally and gradually float toward shore until hatching. After they hatch, young Atlantic croaker move into estuarine nursery areas, where they remain until the next fall.
Atlantic croaker are bottom feeders that eat mainly detritus (the waste of decomposing organisms) but also animals such as marine worms, mollusks, crustaceans and occasionally fish. Young Atlantic croaker feed on small zooplankton.
Despite their small size, Atlantic croaker are a fairly popular species with anglers, and make up in numbers what they lack in size. They are frequently caught by fishing on the bottom with cut bait, and are often taken from piers, bridges and causeways in channels and holes near estuarine environments. The best fishing usually precedes and follows high tides. Typical tackle is a light spinning outfit with a 2- to 6-pound test line, a 1- to 3-ounce sinker and two 1/0 hooks spaced about 12 inches apart on a heavy leader. Shrimp, clams, bloodworms and squid are excellent baits. Their durable flesh makes them an excellent baitfish for larger game fish, particularly for grouper and snapper.
- The Atlantic croaker gets part of its name from the loud croaking sound they make by rapping muscles against their swim bladder. The drum fish, such as the red drum and black drum, also make this noise.
- Considered excellent table fare, a valuable commercial fishery exists for the species, particularly around Chesapeake Bay.