The operational sex ratio (OSR, ready-to-mate males to females) is a key factor determining mating competition. A shortage of a resource essential for reproduction of one sex can affect OSR and lead to competition within the opposite sex for resource-holding mates. In the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus), a fish with paternal care, male readiness to mate depends on acquiring a nest-site, whereas food abundance primarily impacts female egg production. Comparing body condition and gonadal investment of fish from two populations with different availability in resources (Baltic Sea: few nest-sites, more food; North Sea: many nest-sites, less food), we predicted females carrying more mature eggs in the Baltic Sea than in the North Sea. As predicted, ovaries were larger in Baltic Sea females, and so was the liver (storage of energy reserves and vitellogenic compounds) for both sexes, but particularly for females. More females were judged (based on roundness scores) to be ready to spawn in the Baltic Sea. Together with a nest colonization experiment confirming a previously documented difference between the two areas in nest-site availability, these results indicate a more female-biased OSR in the Baltic Sea population, compared to the North Sea, and generates a prediction that female–female competition for mating opportunities is stronger in the Baltic population. To our knowledge, this is the first time that female reproductive investment is discussed in relation to OSR using field data.