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State Record Triggerfish Caught

November 30, 2005

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife has certified a new state record triggerfish that was taken off the Cape May Artificial Reef. Lois Schuda of Ocean View caught the 5 pound, 11 ounce triggerfish on October 19. It weighed one pound, one ounce more than the previous record taken off the Shrewsbury Rocks in Monmouth County in 2004.

Bottom fishing with clams from the family’s boat during the Cape May County Tournament, Lois reeled the fish in on 20-pound test line. The fish measured 20 inches in length with a 22-inch girth.

As a Cape May County Tournament entrant, Lois (along with her husband) took the fish to Harbor View Marina for an official weight and measurement. At that time, they did not know what they truly had! Only after the couple got home and started filleting the fish, did they decide on a whim to check the Division’s Web site and found that Lois’ catch was indeed, a state record.

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 weighmaster’s signature are necessary. Other rules apply.

For more information or to request an application, call 609-633-7768 or visit the Record Fish Program page at

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2005
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 30, 2005