The triggerfish is a very unique-looking fish that is easy to identify when caught. They are found in the offshore waters of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Some anglers consider them a nuisance while others enjoy the sporting qualities of the fish in addition to the taste of the flesh.

Why Are They Called Triggerfish?

A triggerfish gets in name from the characteristics of the dorsal fins. The dorsal fins have spikes that can only be folded back down by pressing what is called the trigger. The trigger is the smallest spine that is at the rear end of the dorsal fin. 

How Many Varieties of Triggerfish are There?

There are believed to be around 40 varieties of triggerfish. In the southeastern coastal waters of the United States, three are prevalent. 

How do you identify the three most common variations of triggerfish?

Here is the way to identify the three most common types of triggerfish in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from each other. Each variety is shaped similarly. The body is similar to a football’s shape, and the mouths are small but lined with teeth. 

Queen Triggerfish

The queen triggerfish has beautiful coloration. They have a large trailing rear dorsal fin. Almost all of the fins are blue. The fish’s sides are most often yellow with blue lines beneath the eye and around the mouth. Queen triggerfish can grow up to ten to twelve pounds.

Gray Triggerfish

A gray triggerfish is colored nearly the same as an ocean triggerfish. They are typically dark grey or black. The anal and dorsal fin are not pointed. They run at a slight angle. The tail section has two extended areas at the top and bottom. 

Ocean Triggerfish

The ocean triggerfish is also black or dark gray in color. The anal and dorsal fin are more pronounced; however, the tail does not have extended tips on the top and bottom. Most anglers catch ocean triggerfish between four and six pounds, but they can top ten. 

Where Can You Find Triggerfish

All three varieties of triggerfish call the waters between south Florida and New England home. Beyond the east coast, they can be found worldwide. 

In What Habitat do Triggerfish Live

Both the gray triggerfish and queen triggerfish spend most of their time on reefs and wrecks. In the more northern areas where coral reefs are not found, expect them to be on banks and drop-offs. When the water is clear, it is easy to identify triggerfish below when gazing into the water. 

The ocean triggerfish is not a structure dweller. Ocean triggerfish, like the name, spend their time well offshore in the Atlantic ocean near the water’s surface. 

Methods for catching triggerfish

Heavy offshore gear is not needed to catch triggerfish. If you are typically an inshore fisherman but venture offshore to fish a wreck, bring along the same equipment. 

What tackle is best

The inland waters of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georiga are teeming with redfish, sea trout, and flounder. The same light to medium action rods and reels will do. Fifteen to twenty-pound line is sufficient. As for hooks, because of the small mouths of triggerfish, pack small hooks. 

What type of lures and bait do cobia eat

The next time you’re offshore in search of triggerfish, forget about lures or jigs and use weights and hooks instead. Tie on as much weight as it takes to reach the structure or reef on the seafloor below. A single hook or chicken rig baited with live or dead shrimp, squid, or any cut fish will work to entice a bite. Remember, don’t oversize the hooks. Use small hooks because of the size of the triggerfishes mouth. 

How good are triggerfish to eat

Don’t let the appearance of a triggerfish fool you. Triggerfish may look unappetizing, but the fillets are delicious to eat.  The gray triggerfish and queen triggerfish have white mean that is sweet in flavor. It is exceptionally versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways. 

Ocean triggerfish are also edible; however, the fillets are more coarse. We recommend not to keep ocean triggerfish. 

Is It Worth Fishing For Triggerfish

Yes, it is worth fishing for triggerfish. The next time you’re offshore bottom fishing for black sea bass, grouper, red snapper, or other varieties of bottom fish, don’t hold back on throwing a few keeper triggerfish in the icebox. If you’re fishing offshore but on more shallow wrecks off of South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia, this will be one of the best-tasting fish you can catch in those areas, and you don’t have to go far.