Croakers are excellent bait for big speckled trout for many reasons, but how do you rig them? This is your simple (but complete) guide to rig live croaker.
Live bait is a great tool in the toolbox for budding inshore anglers, and there's more than one kind.
Live shrimp is the most popular amongst inshore anglers, many bringing them as an "insurance policy" for catching speckled trout.
But fact of the matter is that live shrimp isn't the only live bait to be had!
Live croakers are an excellent live bait to fish with because they don't appeal to trash fish like hardhead catfish, are too big for throwbacks and tend to stay on the hook better.
Above all, they are excellent bait for targeting beautiful speckled trout you won't have to worry about measuring.
But – just as there are tricks to keep shrimp alive – there are tricks to rig live croaker to maximize their liveliness and presentation.
Keep reading to find it all below!
How to Rig Live Croaker The Correct Way
There are two ways to rig live croaker: through the back and through the nose.
One method allows the croaker to swim freely under a cork when fishing shallow water, and the other is better for deeper, faster moving water you'd fish with a Carolina rig.
So you know, the Inshore Rig incorporates both these features, and it is highly recommended you use it to fish live croakers.
The Inshore Rig utilizes a kahle hook, which you will see in the pictures below.
Rig 'Em Through the Back
I will rig live croaker by putting a 1/0 or 2/0 Kahle hook through his back.
Hooking the croaker through his back gives him freedom of movement, which is key to keeping him from "drowning".
This is because you are putting the hook through his mouth, allowing water to move through his gills to get good oxygen.
Rig Live Croaker Through the Nose
You may want to switch it up if you are fishing in a strong current (like this trip to Seabrook).
Hooking the croaker through his nose will keep him from spinning, which would be a weird presentation to discerning speckled trout.
A croaker doing cartwheels in the water isn't very appealing, is it?
Final Thoughts On Rigging Live Croaker
It doesn't take a lot of skill to put a hook through a small fish, but knowing the key details in this guide is what separates achieving success from getting skunked.
And those details are knowing how to rig live croaker correctly for the right conditions.
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