I hoped to get back into this by posting a shot of me with a nice stringer of triggerfish I caught during our Outer Banks vacation, which just ended yesterday. However, that picture is on my little Canon PowerShot G9 camera, which I can’t find.
I’m hoping the camera turns up but I have scoured my bags and my truck and I’m pretty doubtful. I guess it might have ended up on the floorboard in its little soft case and then kicked out at some point either Saturday or Sunday. Foolishly, I didn’t have it labled, so if that happened it’s gone forever. Fortunately, we didn’t have too many shots on it because I mostly used another camera.
The fish picture wasn’t special. Just me holding up a stringer with six 2-pound triggerfish on it.
A day earlier I had gone for a swim from the beach near the cottage north to the pier at the Army Corps of Engineers research facility at Duck. The pier isn’t open to the public (except for guided tours) but you can walk under it on the beach, and fish and swim around the thing. Not many people do because there is no beach access for maybe 500 yards on either side of it so people just don’t go there to set up there beach camps.
As I was getting out of the water I saw a guy in snorkle gear with a speargun. I started talking with him (Brett from New Jersey) and he said he was getting ready to go out after triggerfish and spadefish. I asked if I could tag along.
We swam maybe 100 yards out and set up his dive flag, then went toward their pier. Within a few seconds he had a 2-pound triggerfish on his spear.
He had a stringer on his dive float, but getting the fish on it wasn’t simple. Triggerfish have just a tiny gill opening and there’s no way to thread a stringer hook through it. So he had to cut a hole in the bottom on the jaw and pop the stringer hook through that. I was helping him when I got careless and got my thumb near the fish’s mouth.
Has anyone seen the teeth on a triggerfish? Think horse teeth — but sharp. The fish got me good. Had it been a little closer to the end of my thumb, it probably would have nipped the whole end off. As it was, it was a couple of deep gouges.
Brett ended up getting four triggerfish on that first run before he headed in to put them in a cooler. I headed back down the beach with grand ambitions to get an inexpensive pole spear at a local dive shop and come back the next day.
By the next morning I’d come to my senses (in part because the nearest dive shop was 20 miles south) and decided that it would probably be better for me to just fish there. So I rented an Ocean Kayak Scrambler, bought a container of shrimp for bait and got ready.
About 10 a.m. I paddled the mile north to the pier, put a shrimp on the hook and dropped it next to a piling about 150 yards off the beach. Instant hit. But no fish.
Triggerfish are also notorious bait stealers and hooking them can be tricky. Eventually I hooked one and it put up an awesome fight. They are platter shaped, like sunfish or spadefish, and they use it to their advantage. I’ve caught only a couple of spadefish, but I think triggers fight every bit as hard.
But the time I dealt with the fish (it’s pretty interesting to have a snapping triggerfish in a kayak with you) I had drifted 100 yards farther north. I paddled back and repeated the process.
The short of it is I got a hit every time the bait went down. I caught probably 10 fish, and kept a half-dozen. I ran out of real shrimp pretty quickly but I found that Berkley Gulp shrimp was just as effective and much more durable.
While the action was fast at the pilings, huge pods of bait were all around me in the open water, and schools of bluefish were blitzing them from time to time. Eventually I tied on a spoon and fooled with them for a bit, but the blues were just little so I went back to the pilings.
I repeated the trip the next day with similar results. Paddling back south against a stiff breeze that afternoon was a real chore so I wasn’t too eager to go again. As it turned out, with the swell from Hurricane Bill picking up daily, that was pretty much the end of the ocean fishing window anyway.
Then it was time to catch some waves. But that’s another story…