Capt. Scott Goodwin Shows How To Clean A Triggerfish

Grey triggerfish are an excellent eating fish. I think they are as good as any snapper, but even a little firmer. They do have a very tough hide, but with a few tricks and a little practice, cleaning them is as easy as any other fish.
First we have to catch them. They are very aggressive eaters, responsible for many missing baits and chewed up live baits. They have a very small, narrow mouth full of sharp teeth. I use a two-hook dropper rig built with three way swivels and 50# mono and a very small, but strong hooks.

triggerfish rigSmall cubes of cut fish are best for toughness, but anything will get eaten. You will have to sort though some grunts and so on, but if the triggers are there, you will get them. Check with local regulations as now there are new size limits and closed seasons.
cleaning fish

Now let’s clean them! You cannot cut thier tough hide from the outside. You must poke your knife in with the blade tip, cutting the skin from the inside out.

clean a trigger fish for foodSlice downward 2/3’s of the fish, the blade only an inch or so in. Then push on through and out the other side towards cutting towards the tail and cut the end of the fillet loose from the body.

triggerfish cleaningNow turn the knife around and slice back towards head until the rib-cage. Use the spine as your guide.

fish cleaning tipsThen turn the blade upward and slice skin to separate the fillet from the head.

clean a trigger fish

All of your cutting is still from the inside outward.  Just be careful to keep your parts out of the way of the “oh *%$#” zone.  A sharp knife is actually safer than a dull one because you are not using as much pressure and force to cut.

skinning fishNow take the fillet and start at the tail end, angle knife roughly about a 30-degree angle and separate the skin from the meat. You can skin it close, as there is no red meat on the backside of the skin.

cleaning fishNow I make a V-cut, removing the center line which has a few bones in it.

grey triggerfishNow flip fish over and do the same. Hold will be a little different. When cutting up, watch your hand.

With a little practice you can whip them out and enjoy a fine triggerfish dinner.

Check out more fish cleaning tips on BD.

How To Clean Cobia And Other Large Fish

Labeling Your Fish Fillets

How to Clean a Redfish or Other Inshore Fish

A Better Way to Clean Dorado

Capt. Scott Goodwin
Capt. Scott Goodwin started fishing in the lakes of Kentucky where he grew up. A move to Florida, however, brought him into a whole new realm of fishing. After receiving a bachelor's degree in biology from Eckerd College, he decided that he liked catching fish more than studying them and thus began ...