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The grey triggerfish is a ray-finned fish native to shallow parts of the western Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to Argentina and the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of western Africa. They are relatively small fish, usually around 2.3 kg (5 pounds) in weight. It is a popular recreational fish, and despite its tough skin, is excellent table fare.
These fish are usually a pale grey, greenish grey or yellowish brown in color. Their bodies have dark bars that run along the side. They usually hang out over hard bottoms on reefs and rocky areas, in lagoons and bays, and like to be around depths of 55 meters (180 feet.) They love to feed on small creatures such as shrimp, crabs, mollusks, sea urchins, starfish, and sea cucumbers. They have strong teeth that specialize in breaking into hard shelled prey. While they normally inhabit the bottom, they will rise up in the water to get to your bait on the way down. The adults drift along the bottom either alone or in small groups, while the juveniles drift at the surface looking for easy meals.
The triggerfish is a commercially and recreationally popular fish. Their meat is considered of excellent quality, and is consumed either fresh, smoked, or dried and salted. It is also a very popular show fish in aquariums. To catch and target these fish, use a light to medium action spinning reel with a six to eight foot rod. Use small, sharp hooks (circle hooks work great) from a 1/0 to 2/0. Attach a sinker to get your bait down in the water fairly quickly. You do not want the fish to start biting until you are ready. The heavier the weight, the faster it will take the bait to the bottom and it makes it more difficult for a fish to steal it on the way down. It also helps to keep tension on the line while reeling it in. Triggerfish are usually somewhat aggressive and will take almost any live or cut bait. Squid is a popular choice, but be warned that these fish are notorious for stealing bait off of lines. This is because they do not hit the bait and run with it like most fish, and instead hover near it and nip at it with their big teeth. You can tell if there is a triggerfish on your bait as they leave small, neat holes from your bait. It takes a small degree of skill, patience, and luck to actually get a hook set into a triggerfish. If you keep having your bait stolen or eaten, be patient and keep trying. They are bound to make a mistake eventually.
Triggerfish may be a common fish that is plentiful in many different waters, but it should not be underestimated. They can be very tricky to catch and taste great once you finally do land one. So next time you bait gets stolen, make sure it is not a triggerfish stealing it!