Know Your Sportfish

Fin identification helps to correctly identify your catch. *Click to enlarge.

Get the Sport Fish of Florida Book!


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: A great many kinds of fish are protected by conservation laws that may include licenses, daily bag limits, possession limits, minimum and maximum size limits, permitting and other legal requirements. Many different jurisdictions and agencies are involved in managing the fisheries—at least a half-dozen in Florida alone, to say nothing of other countries—and their regulations sometimes conflict.

In Florida, information is available from such sources as Florida Sportsman Magazine, county courthouses and many tackle shops. Visitors to Florida or the Islands usually are able to get the needed information from their travel agents, resorts, fishing camps or charter captains. Visit or for the most current fisheries regulations.



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The Gray Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus

Uniform dark gray in color, sometimes with darker blotches on the sides, especially in smaller fish.

SIZE: Averages 1-3 pounds; may rarely top 10 pounds. World record 13 pounds, 9 ounces. Florida record 12 pounds, 7 ounces.

FOOD VALUE: Excellent. Many consider Triggerfish fillets to be tastier fare than those from the Yellowtail and small Snapper that are often caught with them in mixed bags. They are, however, more difficult to clean because of their tough skins.

GAME QUALITIES: The small mouth of the Triggerfish makes them difficult to hook, but once they are on a line they put up an outstanding fight against light tackle.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Spinning, baitcasting and light ocean tackle. Small hooks are essential. They bite shrimp and any sort of cut bait and also nip voraciously at artificial lures, especially plastics, although seldom getting hooked on them.

FISHING SYSTEMS: Still Fishing; Drifting.


Common Triggerfish

Common Turbot


RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

HABITAT: Mostly found well offshore in northern half of Florida, but inhabits both inshore areas—patches, holes, bridge and dock pilings—and offshore reefs of South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands.