World Record Arapaima: The Biggest Ever Caught

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world record jakud arapaima

Arapaimas are some pretty mysterious fish. They are one of the largest freshwater fish in the world and can grow to some truly impressive sizes.

As they are found in the Amazon region of South America, they can be extremely difficult to find, let alone successfully catch and land. Another issue anglers face when fishing for arapaima is that, despite their gigantic size, these fish are known to jump out of the water. While this might not sound like too much of a big deal, it becomes much more of a problem when a several hundred-pound fish is flying through the air towards you!

In this article, we look into the story behind two world record arapaima catches. The fish in these records are massive, and the fishermen who caught them certainly had their work cut out and definitely earned their place in the record books.

All Tackle World Record Arapaima

When it comes to the world of big fish – angler Jakub Vagner is something of a superstar. He holds multiple freshwater fishing records and is a world-renowned adventure fisherman. One of his long list of records includes catching 147 catfish in 40 hours.

Jakub has said that he has actually made a list of the 24 biggest species of freshwater fish in the world and he wants to catch them all. He has currently caught 21 of the 24 so he is definitely doing well although, perhaps rather humbly, Jakub himself doesn’t think he will succeed in catching all of the final three fish that have eluded him up until now.

He has his own TV show, his own fishing lakes, he is invited to fishing events all over the world and he is almost constantly traveling from place to place trying to find new places to find some truly big fish.

Over the course of his life, Jakub says he has spent 14 months on the Kongo river and more than three years in the Amazon. During this time, he has been bitten by snakes, he has had Malaria seven times, and he has suffered from River blindness and even Elephantiasis (grossly swollen limbs). In other words, he has worked hard to catch a lot of fish.

His travels and adventures have earned him many world records including the world record arapaima.

This fish was caught on the 18th of February 2010 in Amazonia, Ecuador. At the time, Jakub was using a WFT International Ocean F rod, a Ryobi Safari 5000 reel, and a WFT K6 Strong line baited with fish. It was this setup that resulted in a 339-pound 8-ounce (154kg) fish being caught.

To give you an even better idea of just how big this fish was, it was 116.14 inches long and it had an impressive girth of 55 inches.

With Jakub being such an experienced and talented angler, it could be a long time before someone else is able to land a fish this big and break this world record.

Fly Fishing World Record Arapaima

richard hart arapaima
Richard Hart’s monster arapaima was release to fight another day

When angler Richard Hart from Orlando (although originally from the UK), set out on his fishing trip in the jungles of Guyana, he knew he wanted to catch some big fish. He might not have been expecting to catch a fish quite as big as he did though.

The arapaima he caught on the 4th of February 2015 in the Rewa River weighed in at a monstrous 415 pounds 8 ounces and was 13 feet long with a girth of over seven feet. To catch this giant fish, Richard used a Sage Salt-series 16-weight sailfish rod and a Tibor Billy Pate Tarpon reel along with a leader of 6 feet of 100-pound mono. The fly used was a 7-inch big-game streamer with peacock bass colors. Richard has actually used the same fly to catch other arapaima that weighed more than 300 pounds too.

It took 20 minutes of fighting before the fish was finally taken from the water, weighed, measured, and finally released with the help of the three native guides traveling with Richard.

The local government stipulates that sport fishermen must catch and release arapaima while natives can catch and eat them. The meat from arapaima is considered a delicacy so the species was in a bit of trouble in the early 1900s when commercial fishing almost drove them to extinction.

This record-breaking fish was definitely the biggest fish of the species ever caught on a fly rod and it certainly looks like it will be one of the world records that will stand for a very long time.

About Arapaima

Arapaima
Arapaima are a fascinating fish and commonly reach 200 pounds

Distribution

Arapaima can be found in the northern parts of South America throughout the Amazon basin. As mentioned earlier, it is a mysterious fish with very little detail being known about its distribution.

Size range

Arapaima are one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Although some get to the record-breaking sizes discussed in this article, commonly they weigh around 200 pounds and are around seven to eight feet in length.

Habits

Arapaima breathe air so they have to come to the surface of the water to reoxygenate their bodies.

Although they are predominantly predator fish that eat other fish, they are known to also eat fruits and seeds found on the surface of the water. They have also been known to eat insects, birds, and small mammals that are unlucky enough to be on the water’s surface when an arapaima emerges from the depths.

When young arapaima are born, the male arapaima (father) raises them in his mouth until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Fishing for Arapaima

arapaima with fisherman
Fly tackle is a popular method of chasing arapaima

Dead fish will likely be your best option for bait although fly tackle can work too.

When the fish surfaces to breathe, they can take the fly and your battle to land the big fish can begin.

These fish are incredibly strong and tend to fight in short, fast bursts that can involve them jumping out of the water. You will need large capacity reels and strong rods if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing one of these giant fish.

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AUTHOR
Rob Harvey is an experienced outdoor writer with a passion for using and writing about all the gear that makes camping, hiking and fishing fun.