Two favorite fish will be open to harvest by recreational and commercial fishermen on August 1 in the Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters.
Gray trigger fish are considered excellent table fare. They get their common name from the fact that they have two dorsal spines. The first spine is large, and when erect it remains so until the smaller second spine is deflexed, triggering the first to also lie down. The gray triggerfish is easily distinguished by its drab color from the queen triggerfish, which is vividly colored.
The gray triggerfish season closed on June 10 this year, when new management measures went into effect. In future years, it will close June 1 in state and federal waters. Recreational harvest of greater amberjack also closes June 1 in state and federal waters.
When the gray triggerfish season reopens, new bag and trip limits will also be in effect in Gulf state and federal waters. The recreational bag limit will be two fish per person, per day, and the commercial limit will be 12 fish per trip.
Gray triggerfish have a unique spawning behavior that makes them vulnerable during the peak spawning season, usually during June and July. Male triggerfish coax females to nesting areas, where they all care for and guard their eggs after spawning. Closing gray triggerfish during their peak spawning time and implementing a recreational bag limit and a commercial trip limit should help rebuild the gray triggerfish population.
The minimum size limit for gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 14 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the fish’s closed mouth to the center of the fork in the tail. The minimum size limit in Atlantic state waters is 12 inches fork length.
Amberjack are also harvested for the dinner table, but conventional wisdom suggests that the smaller ones are the better eating. The large ones, however, are good for pole bending, drag screaming action.
The minimum size limit for recreationally caught greater amberjack in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 30 inches fork length. In Atlantic state waters, the recreational size limit is 28 inches fork length. Recreational anglers may take one greater amberjack per person, per day.
Reef-fish gear rules apply when fishing for gray triggerfish and greater amberjack. In all Gulf waters, this means anglers must use circle hooks, and have a dehooking device and a venting tool on their vessel.
Using these tools will help increase a fish’s chance of survival if it is caught and returned to the water.
State waters in the Gulf extend from shore to 9 nautical miles and in the Atlantic from shore to 3 nautical miles; federal waters extend from those boundaries to about 200 miles from shore.
Learn more about saltwater fishing by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater.”
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Angler Alert: Don’t forget to log you catch online at the Angler Action Program.