20 Unbreakable Fishing Records: Will They Ever be Topped?

Here are 20 fish records that are set to stand the test of time.

While anglers live in hope of landing bigger specimens of these fish species, we think these records will be safe for some time.

What do you think?

Arapaima


Richard Hart caught this 188.5 kilo (415 pound and 8 ounces) monster in 2015. He was fishing in the depths of the Guyana jungle, on the Rewa River using a 7-inch big-game streamer with peacock bass colours. He has gone on to catch other enormous arapaima with the same fly. He fought the record arapaima for 20 minutes, and it took Hart and three local guides to weigh and measure the fish.

Barramundi

For those who don’t know, the barramundi is a large freshwater and saltwater fish popular with Australian anglers. The record barra was caught by Denis Harrold in Lake Monduran, Queensland, Australia. As soon as he hooked the 44.6 kilo (98 pound) fish he knew it was big, saying that he “didn’t realise it was a world record barra, but [he] knew it was a snodger”.

Bass


The largest species in the bass family by a mile is the giant sea bass. The record giant sea bass, caught by James Donald McAdam Jr in 1968, weighed a whopping 255.7 kilos (563 pounds and 8 ounces). He caught this quarter tonne monster in Santa Barbara, USA, with a simple rod and bonito bait. Most anglers agree that this record won’t be broken for a long time.

Catfish


The catfish needs no introduction. Easily recognised by their ‘whiskers’ they can grow to be some of the largest fish on the planet. The biggest ever caught was a Mekong giant catfish weighing in at a staggering 293 kilos (646 pounds). This giant was illegally caught by unidentified villagers on the Mekong River, Thailand. Not much else is known about the fish’s capture. The largest catfish caught on a line was this one taken in Italy’s Po River.

Dorado


The dorado (also known as a dolphinfish or mahi mahi) is an odd-looking fish famous for striking almost anything but also for putting up a brutal fight. The world record Dorado was caught in Costa Rica by Manuel Salazar all the way back in 1976. It weighed about 39 kilos (87 pounds) and was 176.5 centimetres (69.5 inches) long.

Alligator Gar


Looking at the alligator gar, you can see how it got its name. This menacing prehistoric creature can regularly grow to lengths of 2 metres (about 6 feet) or more. One monster, caught by Kenny Williams in 2001, weighed 148 kilos (327 pounds). Williams caught the gar accidentally in his net while fishing in Mississippi Lake, USA. It’s estimated that the fish was anywhere between 70 and 90 years old.

Grouper


The grouper is a massive saltwater fish found in warm waters around the world. The largest ever caught weighed an astonishing 308 kilos (680 pounds). This monster was caught in Fernandina Beach, Florida, USA, by Lynn Joyner in 1961. Joyner fought the creature for an hour before he and several other fishermen managed to haul it onto his boat. Incredibly, scientists believe that there are groupers significantly larger than Joyner’s giant lurking in the ocean, waiting to be caught.

Halibut


The halibut is another very strange fish that can grow to be surprisingly big. The record-breaking halibut was a 208 kilo (459 pound) behemoth caught in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, USA in 1996. Angler Jack Tragis was fishing on a small boat with his friends when he hooked the record-breaker. He had already caught some halibut earlier that day, but nothing would prepare him for what was about to happen. He hooked the halibut on his last cast of the day, and battled it for two hours before managing to drag it aboard.

Marlin


It’s every angler’s dream to catch a giant marlin. Elusive, majestic and strong, catching one is an experience that no-one would soon forget. In 1953, Alfred Glassell Jr made this dream a reality by reeling in a 708 kilo (1560 pound) marlin. Glassell was fishing from his boat in Cabo Blanco, Peru when the fish took a bite of his mackerel bait. This began a two hour battle, which ended in the capture of the largest marlin ever recorded. This is another record that is unlikely to be broken any time soon.

Muskie


There is a great deal of controversy surrounding this record. For twenty years, the record was held by Arthur Lawson. If his claim is to be believed, he caught a 31.4 kilo (69 pound and 15 ounce) on the St Lawrence River (which is on the border of Canada and the USA) in 1957. However, many were sceptical of him, and so his title was stripped. The next largest is Louis Spray’s 31.3 kilo (69 pound and 11 ounce) muskie, caught in Chippewa Flowage, Wisconsin, USA in 1949. There is similar controversy surrounding his catch though. Ultimately, a 30.7 kilo (67 pound and 8 ounce) muskie caught by Cal Johnson is widely believed to be the largest reliably measured muskie ever caught. Interestingly, he also caught the fish in Wisconsin in 1949.

Redfish


There are two contenders for this record. The first was set in 1984 by David Deuel while fishing in Avon, North Carolina, USA. The fight took him 45 minutes and resulted in him reeling in a 42 kilo (94 pounds and two ounces), 125 centimetre (49.2 inch) monster of a redfish. His record stood for nearly four decades (or still stands, depending on your criteria). In 2021, Jack Limroth was competing in the Red Drum Rodeo at Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, USA when he caught a 127 centimetre (50 inch) redfish. This 2 centimetre (0.8 inch) difference was enough for the IGFA to hand Limroth the world record, though Limroth’s fish was never weighed. We’ll leave it up to you to decide who deserves the record.

King Salmon/Chinook Salmon


The salmon is a beautiful fish known for braving treacherous conditions in annual runs to spawn upstream. It was in 1985 during one of these runs that Les Anderson caught his record chinook salmon (also known as a king salmon). The angler was fishing in the Kenai River, Alaska, when a 44 kilo (97 pound and 4 ounce) salmon took a bite of his lure. The river where Anderson was fishing was so remote that he had to drive seven hours to get the salmon officially weighed.

Great White Shark


This is one of the most famous records on this list. In 1986, fishing legends Frank Mundus and Donnie Braddock caught a 1554 kilo (3427 pound) great white shark while fishing off the coast of Montauk, New York, USA. This giant is not only the largest great white, but one of the largest fish ever caught on rod. Braddock started fighting the fish at 4:30 PM, and the battle lasted long into the night. Eventually, the men managed to tow the shark to shore, and weighed it using the help of a crane. Though the IGFA doesn’t count Mundus and Braddock’s record, it is undoubtedly the biggest shark ever caught, and it probably will be for a long time.

Sturgeon


Nearly two centuries ago in 1827, an unknown angler caught a monster. While fishing in the Volga Delta, Russia, they hooked a 1571 kilo (3463 pound) beluga sturgeon. Though the validity of this record is sometimes doubted due to how long ago it was set, many people believe that it is indeed true. This would make the monster sturgeon the largest fish ever caught on rod, even heavier than Frank Mundus and Donnie Braddock’s 3427 pound great white. Anyone who has encountered or fished for sturgeons knows that they’re enormous, but few people realise that they can grow to be bigger than the great white shark.

Swordfish


In 1953, Louis E. Marron and his wife, Genie went out on a fishing trip together in Iquique, northern Chile. They were expecting to catch some decent sized fish, but nothing could prepare them for the monster that was about to strike. The swordfish attacked their line, and the fight was on. After two hours, Marron finally caught the 536 kilo (1182 pound) behemoth.

Taimen


Many an angler has travelled to the freezing tundras of Siberia in hopes of catching the elusive taimen. Ilya Serbovich was one such angler. Serbovich is a keen fly fisherman, holding 19 fishing world records, owning the Ponoi River Company and having donated over 20 million dollars to salmon conservation. In 2021, he caught a 52.4 kilo (115 and 8 ounce) Siberian taimen in the Tugur River, far-eastern Siberia, Russia. The previous record was also set by Serbovich in the very same river.

Tarpon


The tarpon is a warm water fish often associated with Florida and the Caribbean. Most IGFA-listed record taimen were caught in Florida. That’s why some people are surprised to learn that the world record taimen was actually caught hundreds of kilometres away, in Rubane, Guinea-Bissau. Max Domecq caught this 130 kilo (286 pound and 9 ounce) giant after an hour-long fight back in 2003.

Giant Trevally


The largest trevally ever reeled in was caught near Tokara, Kagoshima, Japan by Keiki Hamasaki in 2006. It weighed a massive 72.8 kilos (160 pounds). Catching any 72 kilogram fish is an incredible feat, but as anyone who has fished for trevally knows, they pack a much bigger punch than their size would suggest. They are notorious for their aggressive nature and brutal fighting, making this record even more impressive.

Lake Trout


The trout is a freshwater fish popular among fly fishers around the world. Though usually considered medium fish, they can grow to surprising sizes. In fact, the largest trout ever caught was a lake trout that weighed 33 kilos (73 pounds). In 2023, Scott Enloe and his son, Hunter, got the surprise of a lifetime when they hooked this record-breaker at Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado, USA. After a 13 minute fight (a time dwarfed by some entries on this list but still a considerable struggle) the duo reeled in the massive pot-bellied trout.

Bluefin Tuna


A bluefin tuna caught by Ken Fraser in 1979 still holds the record for the largest tuna ever caught. This monster, caught off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, weighed 678.5 kilos (1496 pounds). That’s more than a large camel. Despite its monstrous size, the tuna only took about 45 minutes to reel in (still a massive amount of time, but not nearly as much as some other entries on this list). This is another record that probably won’t be broken any time soon.

Sources:

  • https://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gone-fishin/2011/01/world-record-barramundi/
  • https://a-z-animals.com/blog/discover-the-largest-giant-sea-bass-ever-caught-in-california/
  • https://a-z-animals.com/blog/discover-the-largest-giant-sea-bass-ever-caught-in-california/
  • https://www.sportfishingmag.com/news/near-world-record-dolphin/
  • https://www.americanoceans.org/facts/biggest-grouper/
  • https://guiderecommended.com/biggest-redfish-red-drum-ever-caught/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20IGFA%2C%20the,caught%20for%20almost%204%20decades.
  • https://chesapeakebaymagazine.com/aspiring-va-charter-captain-catches-potential-world-record-red-drum/
  • https://www.danspapers.com/2012/08/3427-pounds-the-biggest-shark-ever-caught-on-rod-and-reel-in-montauk/
  • https://a-z-animals.com/blog/world-record-sturgeon-discover-the-largest-sturgeon-ever-caught
  • https://a-z-animals.com/blog/the-biggest-swordfish-ever-caught-over-1000-lbs/
  • https://www.oceanbluefishing.com/magazine/igfa-tackle-fishing-world-records/#:~:text=The%20all%2Dtackle%20IGFA%20record,books%20for%20the%20foreseeable%20future.
  • https://a-z-animals.com/blog/world-record-tuna-discover-the-largest-tuna-ever-caught/
  • https://fishwithjd.com/2008/08/01/the-story-of-the-world-record-king-salmon/
  • https://a-z-animals.com/blog/discover-the-largest-muskie-ever-caught/
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