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Grey Trigger Fish, Balistes carolinensis

Irish Record Fish: 4.81 lbs 2.18 kgs
Caught: Ballydavid 1995
Boat Specimen:  3.25 lbs 1.47 kgs
Shore Specimen:  3.25 lbs 1.47 kgs
Photo Credit:

Roger Baker  Kerry 2003

Introduction: The Grey Trigger Fish is a late summer migrant, weights up to 15 lbs (7 kgs), and arrived here on the Gulf Stream.  It has certainly taken residence, moving offshore in the winter but spreading north and east from its initial base in South West Cork and Kerry.  Take care of the sharp spines down at the tail (see how it is handled in the picture) and keep you fingers out of the mouth!  It has fierce and very sharp teeth for snapping off coral.  It has been caught in increasing numbers off the southern and western coasts in recent years and has been added to the ISFC list as a result, all doubtless thanks to the Gulf Stream current and reputed global warming. 

Boat tactics: Grey Trigger Fish are caught by accident, usually on offshore reefs marks late in the summer and well into the autumn.  They seem to have a particular liking for mackerel strip, squid and worms fished on a long trace on the drift over a mark.  These fish have extremely powerful if small mouths so the quality of the hook as much as its size is important, however a 1/0 upwards is acceptable.  The trace line needs to be reasonably strong too but a light boat rod has the backbone to let you haul in one of these exotic tourists. 

Shore tactics: If you check the gallery, you will find a triggerfish caught on the fly from the shore.  We now have several reports of fish falling to mackerel strip from the shore around Kilkee, Co. Clare, from July onwards.  The trick is to keep the hook size small, down to 1s or 2s as they have very small but very sharp mouths relative to their overall size.