17 Biggest Fish Ever Caught: Meet the Giants!
Jul 28, 2021 | 6 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Did you ever wonder what the biggest fish ever caught looked like? With all due respect to your imagination, we wouldn’t blame you for underestimating how impressive these beasts really were. Today, we’re looking at the 17 biggest fish ever caught. 

a great white shark

For this list, we’ve only included fish that were officially approved as IGFA All-Tackle World Records. Over the years, there have been cases of people catching even bigger fish. These, however, were either caught by more than one person, or failed to meet other IGFA World Record requirements.

As you’d expect, most of these giants are from the Billfish and Shark families, but there are a few surprise entries, too. 

You’ll notice that a lot of these records date back at least a few decades. Back in the day, catch and release was a rare sight, and fishing regulations weren’t nearly as strict. Still, each of the catches you’re about to see required incredible amounts of skill and dedication to pull off. They officially are the biggest fishing feats in history.

Without further ado, the 17 biggest fish ever caught are:

17. Goliath Grouper – 680 lb

Location: Fernandina Beach, FL

Date: May 20, 1961

a 680 lb IGFA World Record  Goliath Grouper
Image source: IGFA

Back in the day, Fernandina Beach was famous for its Goliath Grouper fishery. Up until 1990, anglers could harvest these critters, but with their population dwindling, regulators decided to ban their harvest. All in all, this record isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Angler Lynn Joyner caught this 680 lb Goliath using a Spanish Mackerel.

16. Bull Shark – 697 lb 12 oz

Location: Malindi, Kenya

Date: March 24, 2001 

a 697 lb, 12 oz IGFA World Record Bull Shark
Image source: IGFA

Angler Ronald de Jager successfully caught this record-breaking Bull Shark by trolling a live Yellowfin Tuna. The catch broke the previous 1994 record by 12 ounces. 

15. Dusky Shark – 764 lb

Location: Longboat Key, FL

Date: May 28, 1982 

a 764 lb IGFA World Record Dusky Shark
Image source: IGFA

In 1982, Warren Girle pulled in this world record on a Bonito off Longboat Key, Florida.

14. Thresher Shark – 767 lb

Location: Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Date: February 26, 1983

a 767 lb IGFA World Record Thresher Shark
Image source: IGFA

David Hannah caught this Thresher using Kahawai Salmon. Catching a Thresher of any size requires a great deal of skill, because these monsters are known for bashing the hook and bait with their tail before moving in for the kill. This is why Hannah’s record is even more impressive. 

13. Bigeye Thresher Shark – 802 lb

Location: Tutukaka, New Zealand

Date: February 8, 1981

an 802 lb IGFA World Record Bigeye Thresher Shark
Image source: IGFA

A couple of years before David Hannah, Dianne North reeled in an even bigger Thresher. She trolled a Kahawai to hook the fish and then fought the beast for three hours and 45 minutes. What’s interesting is that the two catches occurred just over 30 miles away from each other.

12. Pacific Bluefin Tuna – 907 lb 6 oz

Location: Three Kings Islands, New Zealand

Date: February 19, 2014

a 907 lb IGFA World Record Pacific Bluefin Tuna
Image source: IGFA

Angler Donna Pascoe battled this Bluefin for over four hours, and in some very tough weather conditions. For her impressive catch, Ms. Pascoe received the IGFA Best World Record award for 2014.

11. Swordfish – 1,182 lb

Location: Iquique, Chile

Date: July 7, 1953

a 1182 IGFA World Record Swordfish

After more than 60 years, Lou Marron’s historic record still stands. It’s a testament to how people once used nothing but angling to catch the ocean’s most fearsome creatures. Lou caught the 14′ Swordfish by trolling a live Bonito.

10. Shortfin Mako Shark – 1,221 lb

Location: Chatham, Massachusetts

Date: July 21, 2001

Image source: IGFA

Luke Sweeney caught this fearsome Mako during the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament in 2001. Luke was actually aboard the smallest boat in the tournament, a 24′ World Cat, when he broke the record. The fight lasted three hours, but ultimately, the Mako made it to the scales for weigh-ins.

9. Great Hammerhead Shark – 1,280 lb

Location: Boca Grande

Date: May 23, 2006

a 1280 lb IGFA World Record Great Hammerhead Shark
Image source: IGFA

Charter captain Bucky Dennis usually fishes for Snook and Tarpon. However, according to him, when Tarpon come to Boca Grande, so do the Hammerheads. Bucky caught this 14.5′ Shark using a stingray for bait. The Hammerhead hauled his 23′ boat almost 12 miles out into the Gulf.

8. Sixgill Shark – 1,298 lb

Location: Ascension Island, British Overseas Territories

Date: November 21, 2002

a 1298 lb IGFA World Record  Sixgilled Shark
Image source: IGFA

Although you can find them worldwide, Sixgilled Sharks just aren’t fish you see everyday. Angler Clemens Rump caught this shark off the remote Ascension Island, in the middle of the Atlantic.

7. Pacific Blue Marlin – 1,376 lb

Location: Kaaiwi Point, Kona, Hawaii

Date: May 31, 1982

a 1376 lb IGFA World Record Pacific Blue Marlin
Image source: IGFA

Trolling a kita lute, angler Jay de Beaubien managed to catch this Pacific Blue Marlin in under an hour! Jay’s record nearly fell in 2015, when an angler caught a 1,368 lb Blue Marlin off the very same Hawaiian coast. 

6. Atlantic Blue Marlin – 1,402 lb 2 oz

Location: Vitoria, Brazil

Date: February 29, 1992

a 1402 lb 2 oz IGFA World Record Atlantic Blue Marlin
Image source: IGFA

Fishing off Vitoria, Brazil angler Paulo Amorim caught this grander trolling a Molecraft lure.

5. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna – 1,496 lb

Location: Aulds Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada

Date: October 26, 1979

a 1496 lb IGFA World Record Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Image source: IGFA

Nova Scotia is famous for its Bluefin Tuna fishery. Bluefins are much more strictly regulated these days, but regardless, Ken Fraser’s 1979 record still seems almost unbeatable.

4. Black Marlin – 1,560 lb

Location: Cabo Blanco, Peru

Date: August 4, 1953

a 1560 lb IGFA World Record Black Marlin
Image source: IGFA

Angling legend Alfred C. Glassell Jr. caught this enormous Black Marlin way back in 1953, making it one of the longest-standing IGFA World Records to date. This Marlin, along with a number of other fish Glassell caught, comprise a permanent exhibit in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

3. Greenland Shark – 1,708 lb 9 oz

Location: Trondheimsfjord, Norway.

Date: October 17, 1987

a 1708 lb 9 oz IGFA World Record Greenland Shark
Image source: IGFA

Using a herring as bait, Norwegian angler Terje Nordvedt caught one of the biggest Sharks ever. This was one of the rare times people could see the longest living vertebrae on dry land. These sharks often live longer than 400 years!

2. Tiger Shark –1,785 lb 11 oz

Location: Ulladulla, Australia

Date: March 28, 2004

a 1785 lb 11 oz IGFA World Record Tiger Shark
Image source: IGFA

This record is a little controversial. When Kevin J. Clapson weighed his enormous Tiger shark in 2004, he thought he broke a 40-year-old record. However, since his catch was only 11 ounces heavier than Walter Maxwell’s catch from 1964, the ruling was that the record was tied. 

1. White Shark – 2,664 lb  

Location: Ceduna, Australia

Date: April 21, 1959

a 2664 lb IGFA World Record White Shark. This is the biggest fish ever caught, at least officially
Image source: IGFA

Alfred Dean’s 1959 record is by far the biggest fish ever caught and approved by the IGFA. Great White Sharks are a protected species almost everywhere these days, so it seems that Dean’s record is here to stay.

All of the catches on this list represent incredible feats by some of the best anglers on earth.  With today’s conservation-oriented regulations, most of these won’t be broken any time soon. But that’s a not a bad thing – we’ll have more of these incredible creatures roaming the oceans for years to come. Besides, we’ll always have lists like this one to remind us of how impressive these beasts really are.

Your turn. Which of the catches on our list is the most impressive in your mind? Which of these records do you think anglers will break first? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments (70)
  • Oscar

    Sep 20, 2021

    As a Florida (west coast) scuba diver and free diving spear fisherman, I have seen some nice fish and put a lot of them in my families diet. The fish I want to speak about is the goliath grouper. In the list of fish we are speaking about there is a 600lb plus goliath grouper. I have seen in the water, ones that were more than twice that size. I have seen one that was at least 12 feet long. A real monster! He haunted one spit for years. Anyway awesome stuff!

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      Karin

      Sep 20, 2021

      Hello Oscar!

      Wow, that is a seriously big fish! I hope it’s still around to impress many more anglers.
      Thank you for reading and have a great day!

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  • Huff

    Jun 11, 2021

    It’s hard to say what the marlin record even is. Gary Merriman caught a Pacific Blue in 1984 off Kona, Hawaii with Capt. Bart Miller (Black Bart lures) that weighed 1,656 pounds…well above the “IGFA World Record”! I’m sure they weren’t using IGFA class test leaders, line or some other thing, so it isn’t shown in their records- but bigger things have been caught many times.

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      Lisa

      Jun 14, 2021

      Hi Huff,

      Thank you for writing in.

      As we mentioned in this post, we only included the records there were officially approved as IGFA All-Tackle World Records. Without a doubt, there have been cases of people catching bigger fish, but those either failed to meet the IGFA World Record requirements or were caught by more than one angler.

      Tight lines,

      Lisa

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      Karen

      Jul 1, 2021

      Do the fish get released or killed?

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      Sean

      Jul 1, 2021

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for reading.

      The fish you’ve seen on this list haven’t been released, I’m afraid. Nowadays, most species have strict size regulations that determine if you can keep your catch. Exceptions can apply when a potential world record is on the line, however, for some species like the White Shark, fishing is completely banned. In most countries, at least.

      Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!

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      great white shark

      Sep 13, 2021

      ME or my other fish frends never got released we got killed so no one ever catches one of us again I justwish i could have the feeling of haveing a hook in my mouth agin

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  • Noah Engwerda

    May 20, 2021

    These photos have been photoshopped, no way they get that big. Its all fake so the government keeps you from crossing over into mexico by swimming.

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      Rhys

      May 20, 2021

      Hi Noah,

      Thanks for reading. I can assure you that all of these pictures are real – after all, Photoshop wasn’t invented when some of these pictures were taken! In fact, one of the many reasons some anglers go fishing is to try and test their skills and strength against monsters this big. And you can find them in harbors all across the world, especially during tournaments – so I don’t think this phenomenon is unique to the US-Mexico border!

      Tight lines,

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      hayden vasquez

      May 25, 2021

      thes are FAKE SO FaKe

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      Andriana

      May 26, 2021

      Hey Hayden,

      Some of these fellas definitely look like they’re straight out of someone’s imagination, but they’re certainly real. Feel free to check out the IGFA website to confirm.

      All the best!

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      Cameron

      Jul 3, 2021

      How can these photos be fake they are taken in the 60s some photo shop wasn’t around

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  • eli

    May 12, 2021

    omg

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  • Jonathan

    Mar 5, 2021

    I caught some crepes I don’t know how heavy they were but I had a big struggle with them and my sis caught a sunfish. It was great! I had a fun time. But I hoped I could catch a walleye

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      Sean

      Mar 8, 2021

      Hi Johnathan,

      That sounds like a fun day on the water!

      Even smaller species can be a blast to catch when they put up a fight. Not to mention that they can taste great.

      Hope you’ll catch a Walleye or two on your next outing.

      Thanks for sharing, and have a great day!

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  • Sami

    Feb 1, 2021

    Here I am again, looking at all these fish! With a fishing trip I’m waiting for at the edge of my seat, this is a perfect bait for daydreaming. You’re really making my day, thanks a bunch!

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      Sean

      Feb 2, 2021

      Hi Sami,

      We know the feeling! Do let us know how it goes.

      Tight lines!

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  • Yog

    Jan 29, 2021

    really great

    I like green land shark

    And also want to catch one

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      Sean

      Jan 29, 2021

      Hi Yog,

      Thanks for reading.

      Greenland Sharks are fascinating, not just as an impressive catch, but as incredible fish in general.

      Sadly, these long-living creatures aren’t as abundant as they used to be back in the day, so the odds of finding them on your line aren’t really that great.

      Still, there’s plenty of other huge fish in the ocean.

      Hope you get to test your skills against one soon!

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  • Ryker

    Jan 28, 2021

    wow there are so many huge fish after i was done with this i went and saw tiny versions of all these fish its fun to see how big these really are

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      Sean

      Jan 29, 2021

      Hi Ryker,

      It’s pretty incredible isn’t it?

      Compared to these giants, most decently sized fish would seem tiny.

      Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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  • julian

    Nov 3, 2020

    my biggest fish was a 375 pound goliath grouper in florida

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      Sean

      Nov 3, 2020

      Hi Julian,

      Wow, that must’ve been some fight!

      Goliath Groupers are under catch and release rules only, but fighting one is surely an incredible experience.

      Thanks for sharing, and have a great day!

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      Ayden

      Jan 16, 2021

      my biggest fish is a 2593 pound mahi-mahi (aka dolphinfish) it was huge!

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      Sean

      Jan 19, 2021

      Hi Ayden,

      Thanks for sharing.

      Are you sure that it was that big? Mahi Mahi rarely get bigger than 60 pounds. As a matter of fact, the current all-tackle World Record for Mahi Mahi stands at 87 pounds. It was set way back in 1976.

      Truth be told, Mahi Mahi are a lot of fun to catch, even when they’re a lot smaller. They also taste incredible, which makes them a favorite catch for countless anglers.

      Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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      Agapito

      Mar 14, 2021

      Not cool that all you seem to mention is the taste of a fish Sean. Thats the reason most of those records will never be broken..

      Aside from that, all in all, which fish in the list here do you think would fight the hardest.

      I’d say the bluefin tuna, could be a marlin though.

      Catch and release is better, unfortunate that the sharks and billfish could not be measured released, but hey.

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      Sean

      Mar 15, 2021

      Hi Agapito,

      Thanks for reading.

      You’re right, fishing is about a lot more than just catching a meal. When talking about tasty fish, I was referring to species like Mahi Mahi, and not the 17 fish from our list, but I understand what you meant to say.

      I’d say that Marlin are the fish with the most fight in them, especially the stronger “granders”. But if we’re talking hardest to catch, Bluefins or Swordfish should be in the conversation because they’re so difficult to hook in the first place.

      To your point about catch and release, every angler should try to educate themselves on how to safely release fish, because even if they’re targeting fish for food, chances are that not all catches will be keepers. Regardless of the type of fishing someone’s into, knowing which size of fish should be released should ideally go beyond just knowing current regulations. In that way, releasing fish that haven’t had a chance to breed yet can go a long way in preserving a certain species.

      Thanks for sharing, and have a great day!

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      Agapito

      May 4, 2021

      What do you think fights the hardest pound for pound, Sean? Not on this list, any fish.

      I think it is yellowfin Tuna.
      Highest tailbeat frequency, large migration distances, warm blooded (kind off)

      What about you?

      I believe dogtooth tuna are close as well.

      Cheers Sean
      All the best

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      Sean

      May 5, 2021

      Hi Agapito,

      Thanks for reading, and that’s a great question.

      Yellowfins are certainly among the hardest fighting fish out there.

      If we’re talking pound-for-pound, I’d go with Permit, simply because they’re so unpredictable.

      I personally haven’t had a chance to see a Dogtooth Tuna yet, but from what I’ve heard, they are tough as nails, and very difficult to catch.

      We actually wrote a whole article on some of the hardest fighting fish out there, take a look.

      Thanks for sharing Agapito.

      Have a good one!

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      Viggo

      Jan 29, 2021

      my biggest fish ever was a 243 pound tuna in point Judith Rhode island

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      Sean

      Jan 29, 2021

      Hi Viggo,

      That’s impressive!

      For someone looking to catch huge Tuna, Narragansett is as good as it gets.

      Thanks for sharing!

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      jimmy

      Apr 25, 2021

      this is fake the world record is 102pounds

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      soko

      May 3, 2021

      2.593 pound

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  • julian

    Nov 3, 2020

    my favorite is the marlin ive always wanted to catch one

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      Sean

      Nov 3, 2020

      We can’t argue with that, Julian.

      Marlin are fearsome fighters, and are worthy of any angler’s bucket list.

      Tight lines!

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  • Nishka Agrawal

    Oct 26, 2020

    Wow
    My personal fave was the great white and the marlin
    Thanks again for an amazing article!
    – Nishka

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      Sean

      Oct 27, 2020

      Hi Nishka,

      Thanks for reading.

      The Great White is a sight to behold, isn’t it? What’s even crazier is that there were bigger catches than these, but they weren’t officially documented or listed as IGFA records.

      Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!

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  • logynn

    Oct 20, 2020

    i really liked the marlin

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      Albert

      Oct 21, 2020

      Hi Logynn,

      It’s a seriously impressive fish, isn’t it? It’s just a shame that it couldn’t be measured and released.

      Tight lines!

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  • Imalay Cruz

    Oct 3, 2020

    Great article!!

    For the bluefin tuna was it ever recorded how long it was the one that weighed 1496 lbs!!!

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      Sean

      Oct 5, 2020

      Hi Imalay,

      Thanks for reading.

      Yes, it was. According to the IGFA, the Bluefin Tuna caught by Donna Pascoe was 144.49 inches long.

      Have a great day!

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  • tommy

    Sep 26, 2020

    my biggest catch saltwater 247 lb mako shark freshwater a 45 lb northern pike.

    ps fish on

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      Albert

      Sep 28, 2020

      Hi Tommy,

      Wow, what a pair of monsters! How were your arms the next day?

      All the best!

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  • Ray

    Aug 28, 2020

    Excuse me, but I’ve been under the impression the largest fish taken on rod and reel was the Great White Shark whihc weighed in at 3,427 lbs…this was pretty muh known to many, so why no mention here?

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      Sean

      Aug 28, 2020

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for reading.

      I believe you’re referring to the 3,427 pound Great White caught by Frank Mundus in 1986.

      While this is an incredible feat, the catch wasn’t officially recognized as an IGFA record, which is why it didn’t make it on our list.

      We wanted to keep things consistent with our criteria, but you’re completely right, a catch this impressive definitely deserves a mention.

      Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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  • Connor

    Aug 25, 2020

    Those are super big fish wow you wouldn’t see those everyday

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      Sean

      Aug 27, 2020

      Hi Connor,

      Thanks for reading.

      Absolutely. Just seeing any one of these monsters would make our heart jump, never mind catching them!

      Have a good one!

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  • Walter Gene LaCost

    Aug 20, 2020

    The blue fin from Nova Scotia what a fish ,the blue fin ,Marlin and the grouper are my bucket list thanks for the article

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      Sean

      Aug 20, 2020

      Hi Walter,

      Thanks for reading.

      That Bluefin truly is an incredible catch, isn’t it? Seems like one of those records that’s here to stay.

      As for your Marlin and Goliath Grouper, those two would make any angler’s bucket list, including our own.

      I hope you’ll get to catch them soon!

      Tight lines!

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  • Aaliyah

    Aug 3, 2020

    Hi guys those pics of the sharks and fish were huge and really big. I would love to fish 1 of those fish.

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      Sean

      Aug 4, 2020

      Hi Aaliyah,

      Thanks for reading.

      They really are impressive, aren’t they? Most of the Shark species on this list are caught and released or completely protected from fishing nowadays. However, if you’d like to catch a Marlin or a Tuna, I’d recommend that you book a fishing charter, and have an professional guide take you out. The experience is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

      Have a great day!

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  • fishersgod

    Jul 28, 2020

    love the photos love hiw ppl are not scared:)

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      Sean

      Jul 28, 2020

      Hi there,

      Thanks for reading.

      Those are some really fearsome fish, aren’t they? I’m guessing that they’d be a lot more scary if we were to meet them in the water.

      Still, to catch any of these is a true angling feat.

      Thanks again for reading, and have a great day!

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  • finn

    Jul 27, 2020

    Too bad the great white shark isn’t really edible because its meat isn’t very tasty. But these are some fish! 🎣 🐟
    I love fishing, but since my parents don’t have time we fish really rarely. Too bad so sad.

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      Sean

      Jul 28, 2020

      Hi Finn,

      Thanks for reading.

      For sure, Great Whites are truly astonishing creatures. They are so important for the ocean and the marine food chain that, in a way, it’s even better that they aren’t really tasty.

      Still, there are plenty of delicious fish out there, and they are a lot easier to catch, too.

      You should show some of these articles to your parents, perhaps they’ll be inspired to take you fishing!

      Hope you catch a cool fish next time out. Have a good one!

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  • Terry

    Jul 7, 2020

    That photo of the tiger doesn’t do it much justice looks like it is stretched out. Did you see the photo of the tiger shark caught on a charter boat in NSW near geroa that was big. Do you think deep blue is much bigger than that great white record catch

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      Sean

      Jul 7, 2020

      Hi Terry,

      Thanks for reading.

      To make our list, we decided to include only officially confirmed IGFA All-Tackle World Records. That’s why you saw a few photos shot from less than ideal angles. To your point, that NSW Tiger Shark was enormous!

      While we don’t know the exact measurements of Deep Blue, reports have said that she’s a 20-foot long Shark. The Great White caught by Alfred Dean was just under 17 feet long, so it’s entirely possible that Deep Blue is bigger.

      Thanks again for reading.

      Have a good one!

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  • Shawn

    Jul 5, 2020

    Amazing article once again! Keep up the good work please:)

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      Sean

      Jul 6, 2020

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for reading.

      I’m glad you liked the article, we’ll try to keep them coming!

      Have a good one!

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  • JUMANA

    Jul 5, 2020

    Hi Sean!

    Good read!

    Those are some big fish!

    What’s your favourite big catch?!

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      Sean

      Jul 6, 2020

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for reading!

      They really are spectacular, aren’t they?

      Personally, I love a fish I can eat, so a big Mahi is on top of my list. Unlike many of the species listed here, they’re not endangered, so you can fish for them guilt-free.

      How about you?

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      braden

      Sep 17, 2020

      i like eating pufferfish that i catch there so easy to debone i just pull the spine and eat all the meat im9 and i catch alot of them

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      Sean

      Sep 17, 2020

      Hi Braden,

      Thanks for reading.

      Good for you! Keep in mind that some Pufferfish are considered toxic, so you should be really careful with the way you clean them.

      Did you know that in Japan, chefs need to take a national exam to prove that they can adequately prepare this fish?

      Thanks again for reading and have a great day!

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      Ryu

      Feb 28, 2021

      Yeah they have to take a 2 year course to get a license to serve puffer fish and if you do it illegally and serve it to customers you could get serous jail time

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      Sean

      Mar 1, 2021

      Hi Ryu,

      Thanks for sharing.

      Wow, talk about a risky occupation. But we’ve seen some chefs really take preparing Pufferfish to an artform – no wonder so many people love it as a delicacy.

      Thanks again and have a great day!

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      Sami

      Dec 14, 2020

      That bluefin tuna looks mouthwatering! I go to this website just to admire it. LOL!

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      Sean

      Dec 14, 2020

      Hi Sami,

      Thanks for reading!

      The Bluefin Tuna is absolutely amazing, we agree.

      At the moment, the Pacific Bluefin seems to be the least endangered subspecies of Bluefin Tuna, so if you were planning on treating yourself, this is the one we’d recommend.

      Once again, thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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      braden

      Sep 17, 2020

      well not from up there but im 9 and i caught a huge wahoo 400 pounds and it was hard to real in

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  • Robert zuick

    Jun 28, 2020

    The 907 lb tuna one of greatest catches phoenominal I could feed my 4 cats for 100 lifetimes. They love tuna

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      Sean

      Jun 29, 2020

      Hi Robert,

      Thanks for reading.

      With Bluefin Tuna on the menu, I bet your cats would enjoy those 100 lifetimes very much.

      Have a good one!

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