17 Biggest Fish Ever Caught: Meet the Giants!
Mar 3, 2020 | 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.

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Comments (39)
  • 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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  • 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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      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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