Physical Description

  • Has a long body with a curved, large head and a very blunt snout.
  • Silvery-gray coloration with bluish coloration on top, and white coloration on belly.
  • Dark wavy lines on the sides; large distinctive black spot at base of pectoral (side) fin (hence its name), dark tail and dorsal (top) fins.
  • Largest spotfin croaker ever recorded was 14 pounds, and the longest was 27 inches.
  • “Golden croakers” are large male spotfins in breeding colors


  • Point Conception, California to Mazatlan, Mexico.
  • Gulf of California, Mexico.
  • Most common south of Los Angeles Harbor.


  • Live in bays and beaches.
  • Prefer coarse sand and heavy mud.
  • Found at depths of 4-50 feet.


  • Males mature and spawn at 2 years old and 9 inches long.
  • Females mature and spawn at 3 years old and 12.5 inches long.
  • Spawning season is June-September and takes place offshore.
  • One-inch juveniles appear in the surf in the fall.


  • Fat innkeeper worms, ghost shrimp, burrowing pencil clams, mussels, bloodworms, sandworms, small crustaceans.


  • Seagulls.
  • Often caught by fishers.

Interesting Facts

  • Spotfin croakers travel extensively. Fish tagged in Los Angeles Harbor were caught in Oceanside.
  • Spotfin croakers often congregate in depressions called croaker holes; fishers that find these can return again and again to the same spot to fish them. 

Hear a Spotfin Croaker’s call

Hear a Spotfin Croaker’s chorus

Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife;;; Surfside, Sunset and Newport Beach, Orange County: Environmental Impact; University of California

Photo: Ken Jones