World Record Halibut: The Largest Ever Caught

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World Record Halibut Feature Image

World Record Halibut: The Largest Ever Caught

Tackle Village is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Updated on:
World Record Halibut Feature Image

Of all the species out there, the Pacific halibut is the largest halibut of them all.

Catching one of these big fish is something that many anglers hope to do and some have actually managed to catch some truly giant halibut over the years.

In this article, we look into the story behind the current IGFA world record halibut as well as some other monster halibut that feature in the record books too.

IGFA All-Tackle World Record Halibut

It took Jack two hours of fighting before the fish was able to be bought on board the small boat he and his friends had been using for the day.

On the 11th of June 1996, angler Jack Tragis was bottom fishing in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, USA. It was here that he landed the largest halibut ever caught and earned his place in the record books.

At the time of his record-breaking catch, Jack was using a Shakespeare Sturdy Stick rod, a Penn Senator 4/0 reel, Aimer line, and a Big ugly jig.

Before landing the world record halibut, Jack and his fishing buddies had already landed several halibut (although these were much smaller) and were getting ready to head back to shore after spending the day fishing in waters that were around 200 feet deep. It was on his last cast of the day that Jack successfully caught his 459-pound record-breaker.

It took Jack two hours of fighting before the fish was able to be bought on board the small boat he and his friends had been using for the day. This big halibut was over eight feet long and five feet wide.

Jack’s catch didn’t just set a new record, it actually beat the former record by almost 20 pounds. Prior to Jack landing his giant pacific halibut, the biggest ever caught was a 440-pound fish that had been caught back in 1978.

This is one world record that will likely take a long time for anyone to even get close to, let alone try to break.

Atlantic Halibut All Tackle Record

Thomas was able to submit all the details needed to the IGFA confirming his catch as the new record for the largest Atlantic halibut ever caught.

On the 28th of July 2004, angler Thomas Nielsen set a new world record for Atlantic halibut when he landed a big halibut that weighed in at an impressive 418 pounds 13 ounces. Thomas caught his record-breaking fish while bait fishing in Vannaya Troms, Norway. He was using a Shimano rod, a Shimano reel, and a Dyneema line baited with cole fish.

It took more than an hour of fighting for Thomas to successfully land the fish but once he did, he was able to submit all the details needed to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) who ultimately confirmed his catch as being the new record for the largest Atlantic halibut ever caught.

California Halibut All Tackle Record

Angler Francisco J. Rivera was fishing in Santa Rosa Island, California, USA on the 1st of July 2011 when he landed his 67-pound 5-ounce California halibut that set the new record for the largest fish of this species ever caught.

He was using a Calstar rod, a Penn reel, and an Ande line.

In addition to his fishing gear, Francisco was bottom fishing using live squid as bait.

About The Key Halibut Species

One key thing to remember when fishing for halibut is to be patient and wait for a bit of time after any halibut strikes your line.

Distribution

Pacific halibut can be found on the continental shelf of the northern Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea.

Atlantic halibut can be found in Northerly places from Canada all the way to Iceland. If you are looking for Atlantic halibut in the US, then they are most common in the Gulf of Maine.

California halibut are most commonly found south of San Francisco.

Size Range

Pacific halibut males are usually smaller than the females of the species. Although not all will grow to extremely large sizes, this species is sometimes referred to as a barn door fish as some can grow up to around 500 pounds in weight and more than eight feet in length.

Atlantic halibut have a pretty slow growth rate so their true size is not always commonly seen. Although usually under eight feet in length, it is thought that these fish could grow up to 15 feet.

California halibut can live for up to 30 years and can grow up to around five feet in length and up to 72 pounds in weight.

Favored Fishing Techniques

One key thing to remember when fishing for halibut is to be patient and wait for a bit of time after any halibut strikes your line. Ideally, you might want to let the fish eat your bait before setting your hook.

A circle hook tends to work well for halibut fishing so these can be a useful addition to your fishing gear.

Another thing to keep in mind is that big bait can lead to some big halibut being caught.

Eating Qualities

Halibut is a delicious white-fleshed fish with a firm, meaty texture.

Halibut contains nutrients that are very good for your heart. These include nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, selenium and magnesium.

In regards to taste, halibut has a mild and sweet taste and has very lean, white flesh.

Halibut is considered a high-quality food source and makes for a great addition to your diet.

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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.