Creature Feature: Yellowfin Croaker

Yellowfin croaker are found south of Point Conception, California. They frequent bays, channels, harbors, and other nearshore waters that have sand bottoms. These croakers are more abundant along beaches during the summer months and may move to deeper water in winter.

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Iridescent blue to gray color, with brassy reflections on the back diffusing to silvery white below
  • Sides and back with many diagonal dark, wavy lines
  • Fins are yellowish except for the darker dorsal fins
  • Body elliptical and elongate, with a somewhat arched back
  • Conical, blunt head
  • Single barbel on lower jaw
  • Two heavy spines at the front of the anal fin help to distinguish this croaker from the California corbina (which possesses one weak spine)

Life History & Other Notes
Yellowfin croaker eat mainly small fishes and fish fry, however invertebrates such as small crustaceans, worms, and mollusks are also eaten in large numbers.

Spawning takes place during the summer months when this species is most commonly found along sandy beaches. Maturity is apparently not reached until the fish are slightly over 9 inches long.

Yellowfin croakers are most often taken by surf anglers using soft-shelled sand crabs, worms, mussels, clams, or cut fish for bait. Like the California corbina and the spotfin croaker, this fish is reserved for sport fishermen – there is no commercial fishery for yellowfin croaker.


 Yellowfin Croaker Quick Facts:

Scientific Name: Umbrina roncador

Other Common Names: Catalina croaker, yellowtail croaker

Range & Habitat: Point Conception south, over sand bottoms

Length & Weight: To 20+ in. and ~5 lb.

Life Span: To 10+ years

Diet & Suggested Bait: Eats small fishes, fish fry, small crustaceans, worms, and mollusks. Try soft-shelled sand crabs, worms, mussels, clams, or cut fish for bait.


Excerpt from the California Finfish and Shellfish Identification Book.

Single copies of the book are available to California residents free of charge by emailing a request to publications@wildlife.ca.gov

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