Trophy Fish: What Counts as a Trophy for All Major Fish Species

The concept of a “trophy” fish is one that is highly subjective and can vary from region to region and from species to species. However, there are some rough guidelines …

The concept of a “trophy” fish is one that is highly subjective and can vary from region to region and from species to species. However, there are some rough guidelines and rules of thumb that anglers use to determine what constitutes a trophy catch for a particular species. 

I’ve put together what I consider to be a trophy size across a range of fresh and saltwater game fish. I have also included regional and state differences in what is determined to be a trophy and have included different species information where applicable.

What Is Considered a Trophy Fish

Trophy fish Pike
Trophy fish are typically longer or heavier than average for their species and are prized among anglers.

A trophy fish is generally considered to be a specimen that is very long or heavy for its species, and it is often regarded as a rare or prized catch among anglers. 

However, the tables below show that what qualifies as a trophy fish can vary depending on the species and the region where it was caught. 

Trophy Fish Size Table: Freshwater

Fish SpeciesTrophy SizeNotes
Largemouth Bass8 lbs and upSome states consider 5 lbs and up a trophy size
Smallmouth Bass5 lbs and upSome states consider 4 lbs and up a trophy size
Striped Bass40 lbs and upSome years hatches can produce larger fish overall
Peacock Bass20 lbs and up1 lb and up, or 12+ inches
Yellow Perch2 lbs and upSome states consider 1 lb and up a trophy size
Crappie2 lbs and upSeasonal water temperature can affect max growth size
Bluegill1 lbs and up, or 12+ inchesSome states go by length rather than weight
Walleye10 lbs and upSome states consider 12 lbs and up a trophy size
Sauger5 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Chain Pickerel20” – 28” in lengthTrophies are determined by length rather than weight
Northern Pike20 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Muskie40 lbs and up, or 50+ inchesSome states go by length rather than weight
Brown Trout10 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Rainbow Trout10 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Cutthroat Trout5 lbs and upSome states consider 8 lbs and up a trophy size
Brook Trout3 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Bull Trout8 lbs and upNo official trophy standard, so it can vary by region or state
Dolly Varden8 lbs and upSome states consider anything over 3 lbs a trophy
Steelhead20 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Lake Trout20 lbs and upSome Canadian regions have much larger fish on average
Arctic Char5 lbs and upSome states consider 10 lbs and up a trophy size
Atlantic Salmon30 lbs and upSome states consider anything over 15 lbs a trophy
Coho Salmon10 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
King Salmon50 lbs and upSome regions consider anything over 30 lbs a trophy
Sockeye Salmon8 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Pink Salmon5 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Carp30 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Alligator Gar100 lbs and upSome states consider anything over 50 lbs a trophy
Bowfin10 lbs and upSome southeastern regions have larger fish on average
Blue Catfish50 lbs and upSome states consider 70 lbs and up a trophy
Bullhead Catfish5 lbs and upSome states consider anything over 2 lbs a trophy
Flathead Catfish40 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Channel Catfish20 lbs and upSome states consider anything over 10 lbs a trophy

Trophy Fish Size Table: Saltwater 

Fish SpeciesTrophy SizeNotes
Snook30” or largerMost trophies are determined by length rather than weight
Redfish (red drum)30 lbs and up, or 27+ inchesSome areas go by length rather than weight
Flounder5 lbs and upTrophy sizes can vary depending on species
Dorado (Mahi mahi)40 lbs and upSome areas consider anything over 30 lbs a trophy
Amberjack50 lbs and upTrophy sizes can vary depending on species
Barracuda30 lbs and upTrophy sizes can vary depending on species
Tarpon150 lbs and upFish in the Florida Keys are generally larger on average
Permit20 lbs and up, or 30+ inchesSome areas go by length rather than weight
Bonefish3 – 10 lbsTrophy sizes vary drastically by region or state
Halibut100 lbs and upAlaska considers anything over 200 lbs a trophy
Yellowtail20 lbs and upSouthern regions consider anything over 30 lbs a trophy
Marlin500 lbs and up for Blue and Black speciesWhite and Striped trophies are much smaller
Yellowfin tuna100 lbs and up in most regionsMexico and Hawaii consider 200 lbs and up a trophy
Bluefin Tuna500 lbs and upSome regions consider anything over 1k lbs a trophy
Albacore20 lbs and upCalifornia considers 40 lbs and up a trophy
Jack Crevalle20 lbs and up, or 30+ inchesSome areas go by length rather than weight
Blackfin tuna30 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Wahoo60 lbs and upIGFA record is 184 lbs
King Mackerel40 lbs and upNo notes or caveats
Sturgeon100 lbs and up, or 6+ feetSome areas go by length rather than weight
Sailfish200 lbs and up, or 7+ feetSome areas go by length rather than weight
Swordfish100 – 400 lbs and upTrophy sizes can vary greatly between regions and areas

Trophy Fish FAQs

Does What Constitutes a “Trophy Fish” Vary From State to State?

Yes, what constitutes a “trophy fish” can vary from state to state, as each state may have their own regulations and criteria for impressive lengths or weights. Factors such as the size and abundance of fish populations in different bodies of water can also affect what is considered a trophy fish in different regions since lake populations may grow larger than river populations.

Should You Keep Trophy Fish or Release Them?

The decision to keep or release a trophy fish ultimately depends on your personal preference and the regulations of the specific fishing location where you caught the fish. In some areas, the regulations require the release of trophy-sized fish to protect the population, but in other areas, it may be legal to keep a trophy fish for eating or taxidermy.

Are There Any Official “Trophy” Size Designations?

While there are no universal official “trophy” size designations for fish species, different regions can have different criteria for what constitutes a trophy fish. Alaska, the Florida Keys, Mexico, and some reservoirs in Canada may expect much larger than average fish to be caught before they call it a trophy.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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