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Gray Triggerfish

Balistes capriscus

Appearance

gray triggerfish
  • Olive-gray in color with plate-like scales
  • Small mouth with chisel-like teeth used for crushing
  • Dorsal and anal fins marbled
  • Upper and lower lobes of tail elongated in large adults
  • Young have large dark spots on the back (sometimes persist in adults)

Similar Species: Other triggerfish

Size: Up to 17 inches

Habitat

Hard-bottoms, reefs and ledges in water depths that exceed 80 feet.

Behavior

Triggerfish can raise and lock their first dorsal spine; pressing down on the second dorsal spine acts as a trigger, unlocking the first spine.

Additional Information

State Record: 12 lb 7 oz, caught near Pensacola July 15, 2001

Recreational Regulations

Fishing Tips:

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.