UPDATE: NOAA Fisheries projects the annual catch limit for gray triggerfish has been reached in Gulf federal waters. Gray triggerfish will be closed to recreational harvest in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico starting Oct. 15, 2013, and continuing through Dec. 31, 2013. Gray triggerfish will reopen in federal waters of the Gulf on Jan. 1, 2014. Learn more about the gray triggerfish closure.
Gray Triggerfish: Balistes capriscus
||Gulf State Waters
||Atlantic State Waters
|Minimum Size Limit
||14” Fork Length
||12” Fork Length
|Daily Bag Limit
2-fish bag limit
No bag limit
State Waters Harvest Seasons:
Closed in Gulf state waters June 1-July 31.
Gulf of Mexico Atlantic
Federal Waters Harvest Seasons:
Gulf of Mexico: 2 fish bag limit within the 20 reef fish aggregate and a closed season of June 1 – July 31, effective June 10, 2013.
Atlantic: Size limit: 12” fork length. Included in the 20 fish snapper grouper aggregate bag limit.
Recent Management Updates:
The FWC Commission approved several changes to recreational Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish management in state waters at the February 2013 Commission meeting in Orlando. Changes include a two-fish recreational bag limit and a season closure in June and July, which will protect gray triggerfish during their peak spawning season and aid in the rebuilding of the stock. These changes went into effect June 10, 2013.
A June through July recreational closed season also went into effect in federal waters of the Gulf on June 10, 2013. Vessels that have a valid federal for-hire license for Gulf of Mexico reef fish must adhere to federal closures even when fishing in state waters.
Habitat and Fishing Tips:
Triggerfish inhabit hard bottom ledges and artificial reefs in water depths that exceed 80 feet. Because they prefer the same type of habitat, they are almost always found in association with red snapper. Triggerfish feed primarily on benthic invertebrates including crabs, sea urchins, shrimp, sand dollars and mollusks. Recreational anglers commonly catch triggers on squid or cut bait but they are also harvested by spear fishing. Triggerfish are notorious bait stealers and often frustrate anglers targeting larger snapper and grouper. Because triggerfish have a hard, bony mouth, it is very important to use a small, very sharp hook. Light to medium bottom fishing equipment with 20 to 50 pound test line is sufficient for triggerfish which average 2 to 4 pounds.
12 lb 7 oz, caught near Pensacola July 15, 2001
Gulf Federal Waters Rules
Atlantic Federal Waters Rules
Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles