Yellowfin Croaker

Yellowfin Croaker, Umbrina roncodor

The Yellowfin Croaker, Umbrina roncador, whose common Spanish name is berrugata aleta amarilla, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatras and corvinas in Mexico. Globally, there are eighteen species in the genus Umbrina, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific.

The Yellowfin Croakers have oblong slightly compressed bodies with a horizontal lower body profile. They have a uniform silvery coloration with a series of oblique undulating brown or olive brown lines following the scale rows. The lining of their gut cavity is dark. Their fins are yellow. They have high arched backs. Their head is broad, conical, and low with a short projecting snout that opens in the front. Their gill covers are finely serrated and their chin has one thick rigid barbel with a pore at its tip and two pairs of pores at its base. Their anal fin has a short base with two spines and 7 rays with the second spine being stout and greater than half the length of the first ray; their caudal fin has a straight or slightly concave margin; their dorsal fin is deeply notched with 10 spines followed by another spine and 24 to 30 rays; their second dorsal fin has a very long base; and their pectoral fins are short. They have 15 to 22 gill rakers and are covered with rough scales.

The Yellowfin Croakers are found demersal over sandy bottoms along the shore, in the surf zone, and in inshore bays at depths up to 150 feet. They reach a maximum length of 56 cm (22 inches). They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Yellowfin Croakers have a limited distribution being found along the west coast of Baja and throughout the Sea of Cortez; they are absent from along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

Note: a croaker with yellow fins is not necessarily a Yellowfin Croaker! The Yellowfin Croaker is easily confused with the Surf Croaker, Umbrina xanti (straight lower lines on body; anal fin with six rays; second anal spine three-fourth size of first anal ray).

The Yellowfin Croakers can be caught out of the surf on cut bait (clams, mullet, squid, etc.) with small hooks and bottom rigs. They are viewed as excellent table fare, however, in the United States they are high regulated and banned from commercial sale.

Yellowfin Croaker, Umbrina roncador. Fish caught with Jimmy Camacho, Jimmy’s Sportfishing, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, (Jimmyhcamacho@gmail.com, 613-114-0761; 612-204-1960) within the coastal waters of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, May, 2017. Length: 32 cm (13 inches).

Yellowfin Croaker, Umbrina roncador. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, June 2007. Length: 33 cm (13 inches). Identification reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Yellowfin Croaker, Umbrina roncador. Fish caught off the beach at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, July 2008. Length: 35 cm (14 inches).