South Jersey Fishing: Late Summer Triggers
The inshore bottom smorgasbord continues.
Matter of fact, in close is just as apropos, as no boat is necessary.
Enter the late summer trigger, as in the gray triggerfish. Cool name via its two part dorsal fin that will raise and lock, and is lowered by pressing the smaller rear dorsal rearward.
The pie plate-shaped crab ‘n clam ‘n snad flea (more crab)eater frequents rocks piles, wrecks and reef structures, but more importantly, is found in appreciable numbers along jetties and, as with another summer visitor, the sheepshead, around bridge abutments. As such it is within easy reach of the landlubber angler.
Add that blackfish (tog) are also hanging around the same places and, well, there’s a lot of rod bending and great eating awaiting.
Although they’ve been around for a month or so, triggers really start getting pulled in mid-August, and the jetty bite continues through September, sometimes into early October. Speaking of bite: the parrot beak-like dentition is meant to nip and then crush shells, and will slice like a scalpel if care in handling is not taken.
A simple single hook rig or high-low rig baited with small chunks of green grab, salted or fresh clam, or pieces of thawed, cooked frozen shrimp will all make triggers happy. So will pieces of Fishbites in the bloodworm, clam or sand flea formulas. We’ve enjoyed plenty of pulling when baiting with the Gulp! Sand Flea. This is not to say triggers will not grab other offerings. One trigger we filleted had a wad of chartreuse Gulp! Swimming Mullet in its gut, and in a pinch we’ve had luck with small pieces of squid. Chompers they are!
The take is a tap then a pull. Strike quickly, or the biter is gone. To be sure, they can be as quick and crafty as tog. Owing to its physique, the trigger has a lot of pulling power and will put up a tussle, especially on lighter tackle.
The one rap against the trigger is that it’s difficult to fillet. Its skin has the texture of a catcher’s mitt and will dull a fillet knife quickly. Find the soft spot to either side of the dorsal fin, insert blade and then work around the body. Another entry point is the anal vent. Insert and work around.
It’s diet results in a firm, white sweet meat that, in our opinion, makes the best fried fish sandwich along the Jersey shore.
There is no length or bag limit.