The Largest Fish Ever Caught


We could by no means actually know exactly what the most important fish ever caught was — or who caught it, or the place. The world’s waters are deep and mysterious locations, and the perfect fishermen are good at protecting secrets and techniques. That’s only one cause why any trendy checklist of the world’s largest catches consists of some caveats.

If we’re basing this checklist off dimension alone, we’d have to contemplate the 2-ton whale shark that Chinese language business fishermen reportedly netted by chance in 2014. However then we’d even have to incorporate the 661-pound large stingray that some angler-researchers tagged in Cambodia in 2023, and which edged out the earlier Guinness World Document for the most important freshwater fish ever caught. There are additionally loads of enormous fish which were caught illegally and stored a secret, or caught and launched and by no means acknowledged. (Extra on this in a minute.)

So, for the sake of protecting issues easy, our official checklist of the most important fish ever caught will solely embrace world-record sportfish that have been caught with a rod-and-reel and licensed by the Worldwide Sport Fish Affiliation. These are fish caught by only one angler, who adopted all of the universally-agreed upon fishing guidelines, and who took the time to submit their catches to the group for record-book consideration. Along with itemizing the 5 largest fish of all time, all of which have been reeled in from the ocean, we’ll additionally take a look at the most important freshwater fish ever caught. Lastly, we’ll spherical out the checklist of the most important fish ever caught with a number of honorable mentions, together with a number of the most highly-prized sport fish species in North America.

A Word on Fishing Data

The IGFA has been protecting monitor of the world’s sportfishing information because it was based in 1939. Its file e-book is continually up to date and comprises almost each species of sportfish ever hooked on planet Earth. The IGFA acknowledges line-class information, that are primarily based on the breaking power of the fishing line used, together with catch-and-release information, through which fish are measured by size and have to be launched alive. Then there’s the holy grail of conventional fishing information: the all-tackle world information, which honor the heaviest fish ever caught with a rod-and-reel. To be thought-about on this class, all potential file fish have to be weighed on a licensed scale, and so they’re usually killed within the course of.

That is the place record-keeping will get a bit sophisticated, as some anglers at present would reasonably launch their fish of a lifetime than be remembered for killing it. Take Captain Chip Michalove, for instance. In 2022 he caught and launched an enormous hammerhead shark off the coast of South Carolina. It will have simply crushed the state file, and it very nicely may have beat out the all-tackle world file caught 16 years prior, however he didn’t care about both.

world record lake trout enloe CO
Scott Enloe holds up one of many largest lake trout ever caught. He selected to launch the enormous laker as an alternative of going by means of the world-record certification course of, which might have required him to kill the fish.

{Photograph} courtesy of Scott Enloe

Then there’s Scott Enloe, the Colorado angler who caught and launched the brand new state-record lake trout in 2023 whereas fishing along with his son on Blue Mesa Reservoir. His laker additionally outweighed the all-tackle world file by roughly a pound, in response to his hand scale. However since confirming the load would have meant killing the fish (it wouldn’t slot in his dwell nicely), he selected to {photograph} and launch it as an alternative. Enloe instructed Out of doors Life in Might that he would attempt to get the fish licensed by the IGFA as an all-tackle world file anyway, however it nonetheless hasn’t been accepted.

“I may have made it straightforward to place within the [IGFA] e-book, however I’d have needed to kill it, and I used to be not going to kill that fish,” Enloe mentioned. “I’d like to have the world file, and it is the world file. But when we don’t get it … I do know what I caught, my son is aware of what I caught, and I’m okay with that.”

Learn Subsequent: Are Document Fish Tales as Fascinating as They Used to Be?

So, as you learn the next entries, simply needless to say a number of the largest fish ever caught acquired away from the file books, making them troublesome to trace precisely right here.

The Prime 5 Largest Fish Ever Caught

Wanting particularly on the IGFA’s checklist of all-tackle world information, the most important fish ever caught (by far) was an excellent white shark. Rounding out the Prime 5 are 4 different saltwater species that each one topped 1,000 kilos. No. 4 and No. 5 additionally occur to be two of the world’s most sought-after saltwater sport fish, whereas sharks occupy the opposite prime spots.

Bluefin Tuna – No. 5

An angler stands next to the world-record bluefin tuna.
Ken Fraser with the world-record bluefin tuna he caught in 1979.

Picture courtesy IGFA

True giants of the deep, bluefin tuna are smooth, quick, and highly effective. Talking from expertise, they struggle more durable than simply about another fish within the ocean. Their meat can be one of the crucial sought-after delicacies within the sushi world, giving them the uncommon distinction of being the most costly edible fish on Earth. In 2019, a 613-pounder caught in Japan offered for $3.1 million at public sale.  

The largest bluefin tuna ever caught, in response to the IGFA file e-book, weighed greater than twice that. Caught by Ken Fraser in Nova Scotia waters in 1979, it tipped the scales at 1,496 kilos.

Black Marlin – No. 4

A saltwater angler stands next to the world-record black marlin.
Alfred Glassell Jr. is dwarfed by the world-record black marlin he caught off the coast of Peru in 1953.

Picture courtesy IGFA

Marlin have every thing you’d ever need in a sport fish. They develop enormous and struggle like hell. They’re additionally a feast for the eyes with their beautifully-colored sides and pointed payments. Black marlin are the most important species within the marlin household. (Blue marlin are a detailed second, coming in simply behind bluefin tuna at No. 6 within the IGFA’s e-book.) 

The largest black marlin ever caught can be the fourth heaviest fish ever caught, in response to the IGFA. It weighed 1,560 kilos and was caught in Cabo Blanco, Peru, in 1953 by Alfred Glassell Jr.  

Greenland Shark – No. 3

A Norwegian angler stands next to the world-record Greenland shark.
Norwegian angler Terje Nordtvedt stands subsequent to the world-record Greenland shark, which weighed greater than 1,700 kilos.

Picture courtesy IGFA

Coming in at No. 3 on the checklist is a Greenland shark, a lesser-known species that lives within the Arctic Ocean and isn’t seen by most anglers. These sharks are additionally the longest-living vertebrates on this planet, reaching ages between 250 and 500 years outdated. 

The all-tackle world file Greenland shark was caught in Norway in 1987 by Terje Nordtvedt. The shark ate a herring fished on the underside, and it tipped the scales at 1,708 kilos 9 ounces.

Tiger Shark – No. 2

An angler stands next to the world-record tiger shark.
Kevin James Clapson caught the world-record tiger shark off the coast of Australia in 2004.

Picture courtesy IGFA

The second largest fish ever caught and licensed by the IGFA is a tiger shark. Together with nice white sharks and bull sharks, this species rounds out what some name the “Huge Three” — the three shark species probably to assault a human. 

The all-tackle world file tiger shark weighed 1,785 kilos 11 ounces. It was caught in Australian waters in 2004 by Kevin James Clapson.

Nice White Shark – No. 1

An Australian angler and his crew with the world-record great white shark.
Alfred Dean and crew with the world-record nice white shark. That is the most important fish ever caught on a rod-and-reel and licensed by the IGFA.

Picture courtesy IGFA

The largest nice white shark ever caught weighed 2,664 kilos and was landed off Australia’s southern coast in 1959. Alfred Dean reeled within the monster shark on 130-pound take a look at. He used a porpoise for bait.

That is additionally one of many extra fascinating fishing information for the easy reality that it’s going to probably by no means be damaged — at the very least, not anytime quickly. Nice white sharks are actually a protected species in many of the world’s oceans. They’re federally protected in U.S. waters, and it’s unlawful to reap them in lots of different locations as nicely, which suggests they’re now not accepted by the IGFA as potential world-record fish. You can also’t get away with utilizing porpoises or dolphins for bait lately, because it’s towards the regulation in each U.S. and Australian waters to catch, kill, or in any other case harass these species.

The Largest Freshwater Sportfish Ever Caught

Large stingrays apart, the most important freshwater fish ever caught, in response to the Guinness E book of World Data, was a 646-pound Mekong large catfish. A workforce of fisherman in Thailand landed the fish after an hour-long battle, in response to Nationwide Geographic. And though they tried to maintain it alive, it died and was eaten by native villagers. For the reason that IGFA doesn’t acknowledge fish that have been landed by a number of anglers (the foundations dictate that just one individual can contact the rod throughout the battle), we’ll transfer down the checklist to a different large catfish species that’s native to Europe and Asia.

Wels, the King of Catfish

The biggest freshwater catfish ever caught on a rod-and-reel and licensed by the IGFA was a 297-pound 9-ounce Wels catfish. European angler Attila Zsedely caught the all-tackle world file Wels from Italy’s River Po in 2010.

world record wels catfish river po
Alessandro Biancardi with the pending world-record Wels catfish. Courtesy of MADCAT

In 2023, Italian angler Alessandro Biancardi caught and launched a large Wels catfish from the identical river that was larger, lengthwise, than Zsedely’s fish. Biancardi’s fish measured 285 centimeters, whereas Zsedley’s measured 245 centimeters. This has led some to take a position that Biancardi’s catfish may have weighed upward of 300 kilos, which might have simply changed Zsedeley’s file. However since Biancardi launched the fish alive as an alternative of bringing it to a licensed scale, we’ll by no means know for certain.

A few of the different largest file catfish from around the globe embrace one other Mekong large catfish that was caught in Thailand in 2010 and was later licensed by the IGFA. That fish weighed 260 kilos. 

The most important file catfish ever caught in North America was a blue catfish that weighed 143 kilos. Richard Nicholas Anderson caught the massive blue cat in 2011 whereas fishing Kerr Lake in Virginia. 

Honorable Mentions

We couldn’t make a correct checklist of the most important fish ever caught with out together with a number of of North America’s most beloved sport fish. Beginning with the most important species, we’ll work our means from large sturgeon all the way down to black bass.

The Largest Sturgeon

A California angler kneels next to the world-record white sturgeon.
A newspaper clipping from the Sacramento Bee displaying the all-tackle world file white sturgeon caught by information Joe Pallotta in 1983.

The white sturgeon occupies a singular place on this checklist as a result of it’s an anadromous fish that lives in each salt- and freshwater. Together with the eight different members of the sturgeon household, these historic fish are true dinosaurs. Scientists imagine they’ve been round for about 200 million years. Nevertheless, many of those species are actually thought-about endangered attributable to overfishing for the caviar commerce.

White sturgeon are the most important species on this household, and so they’re faring a bit higher than a few of their cousins. They’ll nonetheless be caught in some bigger rivers on the West Coast (together with the Snake and Columbia Rivers), however they have to be launched alive. Which suggests the all-tackle world file for the species ought to stand for a while. That file sturgeon weighed 468 kilos, and was caught in a California bay in 1983.

The Largest Gar

texas gator gar world record
Artwork Weston and his information launched this world-record gar after weighing it. by way of Fb

One other dwelling dinosaur, alligator gar are a prehistoric species and the most important members of the gar household. Till pretty just lately, these toothy critters have been vilified by anglers as a trash fish that ate extra fascinating sport fish like bass and crappie. Due to this unfavorable notion — one which fisheries biologists have now debunked — they have been killed all through their native vary and even eradicated from some areas.

This perspective has come full circle, with anglers now focusing on these freshwater giants in Texas and different elements of the South as gamefish in their very own proper. The all-tackle world file alligator gar was caught within the Lone Star State in September 2023; it weighed 283 kilos. Amazingly, the angler who reeled within the world-record fish did so utilizing 6-pound take a look at.  

The Largest Muskie

Often called “the fish of 10,000 casts,” muskellunge (higher generally known as muskies) are notoriously troublesome to hook and land, which makes them one of the crucial prized sportfish on the continent. Muskies are the most important members of the Esox household, which incorporates pike and pickerel.

The all-tackle world file muskie was caught in Wisconsin’s Lake Courtroom Oreilles again in 1949. It weighed 67 kilos 8 ounces and ate a hard-bodied crankbait.      

The Largest Salmon

An angler holds up the all-tackle world record Chinook salmon.
Les Anderson with the all-tackle world file Chinook salmon.

Picture courtesy IGFA

Chinook (or king) salmon are the most important of the world’s salmonids. Like sturgeon, these are anadromous fish which might be born within the river, exit to sea, and return to the river to spawn. Sadly, this noble, ocean-going species is on the decline all through its native vary, with many runs listed as threatened or endangered.

The all-tackle world file Chinook salmon got here from the Kenai River in Alaska, and it weighed 97 kilos 4 ounces. Angler Les Anderson caught the fish drifting a spin-n-glo.

The Largest Trout

North American anglers love catching trout, and the continent is now dwelling to greater than a dozen species, subspecies, and hybrids. This consists of native fish like cutthroat and rainbow trout, together with the European brown trout that have been launched right here throughout the late nineteenth century.

The biggest of those species is the lake trout, which, like brook trout, are technically within the char household. Due to their gargantuan dimension, “lakers” have been broadly launched outdoors of their native vary — which incorporates Canada, Alaska, the Nice Lakes, and New England. The all-tackle world-record laker, in response to IGFA, weighed 72 kilos and was caught in Canada’s Northwest Territories. As talked about above, there’s a great probability that larger lakers have been caught however by no means acknowledged by the group.

The Largest Bass

A Japanese angler holds up the world-record largemouth bass.
Manabu Kurita along with his world-record largemouth bass, which shares the No. 1 spot with George Perry’s largemouth bass within the IGFA file e-book. Each fish weighed 22 kilos 4 ounces.

Picture courtesy IGFA

Far surpassing trout when it comes to total reputation, largemouth bass are broadly thought-about North America’s favourite gamefish. The most important member of the black bass household, largemouths have been stocked by fish and sport companies throughout the nation, and so they can now be caught in just about each U.S. state outdoors of Alaska.

Not surprisingly attributable to their reputation, the largemouth bass file is among the most coveted information within the angling world. The IGFA at the moment lists two bucketmouths as tied for the No. 1 spot, and so they every weighed 22 kilos 4 ounces. The primary world file was caught by George Perry in Georgia’s Montgomery Lake again in 1932, however that’s about all we find out about it. Only a few particulars exist about Perry’s catch and there are not any identified photographs of the fish. The newer world file was caught from a lake in Japan in 2009 by Manabu Kurita.

Learn Subsequent: The Greatest Bass Lures

Striped bass are one other beloved bass species which might be focused by saltwater anglers up and down the East Coast. There are additionally wholesome populations of landlocked stripers within the U.S., however they don’t develop fairly as giant as their saltwater counterparts. The world-record striped bass was caught in Lengthy Island Sound in 2011. It weighed 81 kilos 14 ounces.

Largest Fish Ever Caught FAQs

What’s the strongest fish on this planet?

It relies on how we outline the phrase “strongest.” It’s additionally pretty subjective. However if you happen to have been to take a survey among the many saltwater anglers who repeatedly goal a number of the largest fish within the ocean, most of them would most likely say bluefin tuna. These fish have a status for making deep, blistering runs that’ll put on out even the hardest of anglers.

What’s the hardest fish to catch? 

That is one other query that might generate a endless debate amongst anglers. In the case of fishing in freshwater, steelhead (a rainbow trout that runs to the ocean and again) and muskies are a number of the most troublesome fish to catch. A listing of the toughest fish to catch in saltwater would probably embrace marlin, sailfish, and different members of the billfish household, together with allow and Large Trevally.

What’s the largest fish on this planet?

The most important fish species on planet Earth is the whale shark. They’ll develop as much as 40 ft lengthy and weigh as much as 40 tons, in response to NOAA, and so they’re protected in lots of international locations. They’re labeled as fish and never whales, however like many whale species, whale sharks are filter feeders that eat plankton, krill, and different small organisms. This implies it’s virtually not possible to catch them with a rod-and-reel, though they’re sometimes caught on accident by business fishermen utilizing gill nets.

What fish is not possible to catch?  

There is no such thing as a such factor. The one fish that’s not possible to catch is the one you by no means forged to.

Remaining Ideas

A saltwater angler gaffs a goliath grouper.
Jack Sprengel of East Coast Charters prepares to launch a goliath grouper, one of many largest fish species discovered on this planet’s oceans.

(AFTCO, by way of Fb)

The most important fish ever caught on a rod-and-reel and licensed by the IGFA is a big nice white shark that was caught in Australia and weighed greater than 2,000 kilos. Each different fish within the Prime 5 got here from the ocean as nicely. 

There have additionally been loads of huge fish pulled from freshwater lakes and rivers around the globe. The most important of those are all catfish, and a number of the catfish species native to Europe and Asia far outweigh the massive blue cats and large flatheads that we catch right here in North America. Top-of-the-line issues about fishing information, nonetheless, is that they’re always being damaged. Which suggests the most important fish on this planet continues to be on the market someplace. 

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