Update: The FWC Commission approved several changes to recreational Gulf of Mexico gray triggerfish management in state waters at the February 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 will go into effect June 10, 2013.
Gray Triggerfish: Balistes capriscus
||Gulf State Waters
||Atlantic State Waters
|Minimum Size Limit
||14” Fork Length
||12” Fork Length
|Daily Bag Limit
Current: No bag limit in state waters
Effective June 10: 2-fish bag limit
No bag limit
State Waters Harvest Seasons:
NEW: Gulf 2013 harvest closure will start June 10 and run through July 31 with the first day of the opening being Aug. 1 in state waters.
Gulf of Mexico Atlantic
Federal Waters Harvest Seasons:
Gulf of Mexico: Season opens January 1, 2013. Size limit: 14" fork length. Upcoming changes for the 2013 Gulf season: 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 recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico federal waters closed June 11, 2012. This date was set by NOAA Fisheries Service, who determined the 2012 recreational quota for triggerfish would be caught by then. The federal season reopened Jan. 1, 2013. A closure for the recreational harvest of gray triggerfish in Gulf state and federal waters has been set for June 1 through July 31. In 2013, this closure will take effect on June 10. Therefore, the closure in 2013 will be from June 10 through July 31. 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