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New State Record Triggerfish Caught

November 4, 2004

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife has certified a new state record triggerfish.

Charles Donnelly of Little Egg Harbor caught the 4 pound, 8 ounce triggerfish in Great Bay on October 6. It weighed 6 ounces more than the previous record taken from Great Egg Harbor Bay on September 12.

Donnelly anchored his boat and was bait fishing with clams when he caught the record fish on 10-pound test line. It measured 18 inches in length.

Triggerfish have a flat, compressed body with a shape somewhere between round and rectangular. They are often very colorful. Triggerfish sport three dorsal (back) spines; the first of which is the longest and thickest. When in danger, the normally solitary triggerfish will seek safety in a small cave or crevice within a reef, raise their dorsal spine, and wedge themselves firmly in place.

The species is named for the interlocking arrangement of the bases of the three dorsal spines so that the first can be fixed in an erect position. If one depresses the second or "trigger" spine, the locking mechanism on the longer first spine is released.

A triggerfish’s diet consists of hard-bodied prey including scallops, clams, barnacles and sand dollars. These fish are equipped with extremely powerful jaw muscles and teeth that are used to crush their prey.

Preferred habitats for this species in New Jersey include wrecks, reefs and along bay sod banks. Triggerfish are often caught by anglers and are excellent to eat.

The Record Fish Program honors the largest species of fish caught in the state. It revolves around a specific list of eligible freshwater and saltwater species, and is based on weight alone; there are no line classes. Scale certification documentation, specifically the Certificate of Inspection / Test Report and Registration Certificate issued by the New Jersey Office of Weights and Measures as well as a weighmaster’s signature are necessary. Other rules apply.

For more information or to request an application, call 609-633-7768. The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife web site has the application available for download from the Forms and other pages, as well as the complete list of state record fish.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 4, 2004