NEW: The gray triggerfish recreational season in Gulf state waters will be open an additional weekend (Nov. 4-5) to provide anglers with fishing opportunities that were missed due to bad weather from Hurricane Nate earlier this season. 

The season was previously open Oct. 7, 8, 14 and 15. The season was also open Oct. 21 and 22 as an extension due to the impacts of Hurricane Irma.The season remains closed in Gulf federal waters.

Pending state and federal Gulf regulation changes: At the July FWC Commission meeting, several conservation measures were approved for gray triggerfish in Gulf state waters as a part of a federal consistency action.

These measures are slated to go into effect when similar federal measures are approved and include:

  • decreasing bag limit from 2 to 1 fish,
  • increasing minimum size limit from 14 to 15 inches fork length, and
  • adding a seasonal closure from January to February. 

Have you signed up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey yet? Learn more.



Gray Triggerfish: Balistes capriscus 

Florida Regulations:    

RegulationsGulf State WatersAtlantic State Waters
Minimum Size Limit 14” Fork Length 12" Fork Length
Daily Bag Limit

  2 per person

    10 per person


Gear Requirements:

State Waters Harvest Seasons

Gulf: Recreational gray triggerfish season will open to harvest in Gulf state waters Sept. 1-4, 9, and 10; Oct. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, and 22; and Nov. 4-5. 

Atlantic: Open year-round.

Federal Waters:

Gulf of Mexico: 14" FL; 2 fish bag limit within 20 reef fish aggregate. Closed through Dec. 31, 2017, reopening to harvest Jan. 1, 2018.

Bag and size limits as well as season opening changes are pending federal approval. 

Atlantic: 14” FL; included in the 20 fish snapper grouper aggregate bag limit.


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.     


State Record:

12 lb 7 oz, caught near Pensacola July 15, 2001


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Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles

FWC Facts:
Florida's largest estuary, Tampa Bay, covers 440 square miles and has more than 300 species of inshore fish.

Learn More at AskFWC