Gray triggerfish are occasional visitors along the Mid Atlantic coast. These odd looking fish usually appear first in early summer around floating debris or bass pot flags far from land.
Triggerfish are often finicky this time of year and may refuse baits. Locating a floating bucket will solve this problem as the fish will swim in the bucket when a boat approaches. Once the fish swims inside, the bucket can be carefully lifted out of the water.
By mid season, gray triggerfish take up residence around wrecks, artificial reefs, and other structures. By this time they are usually more voracious eaters. A small treble hook and a slice of skipjack tuna or dolphinfish belly will normally be attacked by groups of greedy triggers.
By late summer, gray triggerfish are often caught around wrecks from the beach out to 20 fathoms. They also venture inside inlets, congregating around jetties, piers, concrete pilings, and rock piles.
Triggerfish can be cleaned by cutting their skin with a box cutter. Start by cutting the skin near the vent which is the only spot soft enough to cut from the outside. Once a cut is started, the blade will easily slice from inside out. The firm, white meat of triggerfish makes excellent table fare.