FISH FLASH: Get ready to pull the trigger on spring fishing

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

It may not feel like it, but spring is just around the corner. So now is the time to get those rods and reels out, change the line, sharpen the hooks and get ready. 

Beginning March 1, triggerfish is back on the catch list for area anglers. Triggerfish will be fair game until May 31. The limit is one per person and the fish must measure at least 15 inches to the fork. 

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As a matter of fact, some of the party boats and others in the fleet are already getting ready for triggerfish. 

Bryson Bowman, 4, of Texas, was proud of the triggerfish he caught while fishing on the Backlash with Capt. Chris Kirby in August 2018.

“It’s not like snapper season, but we have tourists that count on them being open in the spring, since other species are closed at that time,” said Capt. Jim Green of the New Florida Girl’s American Spirit. “The locals will come out for them. … it’s a very prized fish for us that live here as well."

Nine-year-old Sammy Rahto of Kansas City shows off a big triggerfish he caught while fishing with Capt. Justin Destin on the Un Reel in March 2019.

Years ago triggerfish were thought to be a trash fish, but those days are long gone. Triggerfish are some of the best eating fish around. Not so pretty to look at, but good on the dinner plate. 

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And with spring comes surf fishing for pompano. Anglers can keep six per person and they must measure at least 11 inches. 

Mary Watkins of Tampa shows off one of the triggerfish she caught aboard the Destin Princess with Capt. Reid Phillips in January 2018.

Another close-to-shore fish is the cobia. The migration usually begins in early March along the beach; thus, the parade of boats begins up and down the shoreline in search of the elusive cobia. Anglers can keep one per person or two per vessel. The cobia has to be at least 33 inches to the fork in the tail to keep. 

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Also happening in early March is Spanish mackerel, according to Tim Broom at Half Hitch Tackle in Destin. The limit on Spanish is 15 per angler and they have to be at least 12 inches to keep. 

Ronnie McCoy shows off an 8.6-pound triggerfish he caught aboard the Sweet Jody with Capt. Cliff Cox on Day 2 of the Destin Fishing Rodeo in October 2020.

King mackerel should start running near shore in mid-March, Broom said, as well as a few blackfin tuna. The limit on kings is three per angler and 24 inches. The limit on blackfin is two per angler.

Another fish that will be open in March is speckled trout. Anglers can keep three. The slot limit is 15 to 19 inches. In that three, the angler can keep one of more than 19 inches. Gone are the days of 10 trout per angler. 

Triggerfish will open on March 1. The limit is one per angler and must measure at least 15 inches to keep.

The rules for fishing limits, sizes and dates change constantly. For updated information about what’s open and closed in the area you are fishing, download the Fish Rules App from the app store.