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State Record Triggerfish Caught

September 27, 2004

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife has certified a new state record triggerfish that was taken from Great Egg Harbor Bay. Four-year-old Riley Hallock of Mays Landing caught the 4 pound, 2 ounces triggerfish on September 12. It weighed 5 ounces more than the previous record taken off Atlantic Highlands in 1985.

Riley was casting surf clams from a boat when he caught the record fish on 4-pound test line. The fish measured 19 inches in length with a 16-inch girth.

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 first is no longer locked in the vertical position.

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.

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 weighmasterís signature are necessary. Other rules apply.

For more information, a complete list of state record fish or to download an application, visit the Divisionís Record Fish Web page at or call 609-633-7768.

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

Last Updated: September 27, 2004