Fishing is an ancient practice that has been part of human culture for more than 40,000 years. For some, it's a way to unwind and relax, while for others, it's as a source of food.
Today, fishing is not just a source of food or a way to pass the time, but also a competitive sport. Anglers around the world aim to catch the biggest and most impressive fish they can find. Some of the biggest fish ever caught are truly awe-inspiring, and their backstories of how they were caught are even more fascinating.
In this compiled list of the biggest fish ever caught, we only included fish that were officially approved as the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) All-Tackle World Records.
Throughout the years, there have been instances of individuals capturing fish of even greater size than previously recorded. Nonetheless, these occurrences either involved multiple people in the capture or did not meet the other necessary criteria for being recognized as an IGFA World Record.
The families of the Shark and Billfish are some of the biggest fishes on the planet. So, don't be surprised if you see them dominating the list of the biggest fish ever caught compiled in this article.
Without wasting much of your time, here are 10 of the biggest fish ever caught;
10. Shortfin Mako Shark – 1,221 lbs
Location: Chatham, Massachusetts
Date: July 21st, 2001
The Shortfin Mako Shark is known for its incredible speed and agility, making it a challenging catch for even the most skilled anglers.
The largest Shortfin Mako Shark ever caught weighed in at an impressive 1,221 pounds. The shark was caught off the coast of California by angler Luke Sweeney, who spent over three hours battling the massive fish before finally bringing it aboard his boat.
Sweeney caught this fearsome creature during a tournament, the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament which was held in the year 2001. His boat was actually the smallest in the fleet at the tournament, when he broke the record.
9. Great Hammerhead Shark – 1,280 lbs
Location: Boca Grande
Date: May 23, 2006
The Great Hammerhead Shark is one of the largest predatory sharks in the world. It can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh over 1,200 pounds. They are called "hammerheads" because of their unique head shape that looks like a hammer.
One particular Great Hammerhead made headlines in 2006 when it was caught off the coast of Florida by Captain Bucky Dennis weighing an astonishing 1,280 pounds.
Captain Bucky Dennis is an experienced fisherman who usually goes after Snook and Tarpon. He claims that when Tarpon fish migrate to Boca Grande, they attract Hammerhead sharks. Bucky then used a stingray as bait and was able to catch a massive Hammerhead shark. However, it wasn't an easy catch, as the shark pulled his 23-foot boat almost 12 miles out into the Gulf before he was able to reel it in, using heavy fishing gear.
8. Sixgill Shark – 1,298 lbs
Location: Ascension Island, British Overseas Territories
Date: November 21, 2002
The Sixgill Shark is a deep-sea dweller that can grow up to 16 feet long and weigh over 1,200 pounds. It's known for its six gills on each side of its body, which are used for respiration. This shark species usually lives at depths ranging from 200 to 2,500 feet, where they hunt for fish and other prey.
One remarkable story involving the Sixgill Shark took place in the middle of the Atlantic when an angler named Clemens Rump caught a massive one weighing in at 1,298 pounds off the remote Ascension Island. After battling with it for three hours, he finally reeled in this behemoth of a shark.
Sixgill sharks are usually hard to come by, and it is truly awe-inspiring that Rump was able to catch the biggest one ever.
7. Pacific Blue Marlin – 1,376 lbs
Location: Kaiwi Point, Kona, Hawaii
Date: May 31, 1982
The Pacific Blue Marlin is a magnificent creature that can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh over 1,300 pounds. This fish is known for its distinct blue coloration and it's incredibly large size.
One of the most impressive catches of this species was made by angler Jay de Beaubien in Kona, Hawaii in August 1982. He caught a Pacific Blue Marlin weighing an astonishing 1,376 pounds while he was trolling a kita lute.
It took de Beaubien under an hour to reel in the massive marlin. This catch still holds as one of the largest Pacific Blue Marlins ever caught on record. However, his record was nearly broken, when an angler also caught a Blue Marlin weighing in at 1376 lbs off the very same spot at the Hawaiian coast.
6. Atlantic Blue Marlin – 1,402 lbs
Location: Vitoria, Brazil
Date: February 29, 1992
The Atlantic Blue Marlin is a majestic and highly prized game fish that can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh over 1,400 pounds. It's known for its stunning blue coloration and impressive bill, which it uses to stun prey before devouring them whole.
One of the most incredible backstories of an Atlantic Blue Marlin catch comes from angler Paulo Amorim. In 1992, he caught a massive marlin off the coast of Brazil that weighed in at a whopping 1,402 pounds and 2 ounces. What makes this catch even more remarkable is that Amorim caught the fish trolling a Molecraft lure!
5. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna – 1,496 lbs
Location: Aulds Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Date: October 26, 1979
The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is one of the most sought-after game fish in the world, prized for its delicious meat and impressive size, and it's no surprise that catching one can be a true feat.
In 1979, angler Ken Fraser caught the largest Atlantic Bluefin Tuna ever recorded, weighing in at 1,496 pounds. The tuna was caught off the coast of Nova Scotia, a popular spot for hunting Bluefin Tunas
The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna populations have been declining over the years due to overfishing. Conservation efforts are now underway to protect these magnificent creatures and ensure they remain a part of our ocean's ecosystem for generations to come.
Currently, the hunting of Bluefin Tuna is heavily restricted, and only individuals who hold Canadian citizenship are granted permits to do so. Therefore, it may be an extremely difficult task for anyone to surpass Ken Fraser's record.
4. Black Marlin – 1,560 lbs
Location: Cabo Blanco, Peru
Date: August 4, 1953
The Black Marlin is one of the most impressive fish ever caught, and for good reason. It's not only massive in size but also incredibly powerful, making it a challenge to reel in.
One particularly noteworthy catch was made by Angling legend, Alfred C. Glassell Jr. in 1953 off the coast of Cabo Blanco, Peru making it the longest-standing IGFA World Records ever in history to date. Glassell spent an exhausting four hours fighting with the enormous 1,560 lbs creature before finally bringing it aboard his boat.
Most of the fish caught by Glassell, including this Black Marlin, are now on permanent display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Glassell's remarkable feat has become legendary even among fishing enthusiasts everywhere.
Catching a Black Marlin is no easy feat- even experienced anglers can attest to this fact! But those who are lucky enough to succeed are rewarded with memories that will last a lifetime.
3. Greenland Shark – 1,708 lbs
Location: Trondheimsfjord, Norway.
Date: October 17, 1987
The Greenland Shark is one of the largest and oldest living species on our planet. It can reach lengths of up to 21 feet and weigh over 1,700 pounds! These impressive creatures are found in the icy waters of the Arctic and are known for their slow growth rate.
In fact, it's estimated that these sharks can live up to 400 years old, giving it enough time to grow bigger. In 1987, however, fisherman Terje Nordvedt, a Norwegian, caught a massive Greenland Shark weighing in at 1,708 pounds off the coast of Norway using herring as bait. These fish species are very rare.
2. Tiger Shark –1,785 lbs
Location: Ulladulla, Australia
Date: March 28, 2004
The Tiger Shark is a fearsome predator that can be found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. They are named for their distinctive stripes, which fade as they grow older.
The largest ever recorded Tiger Shark was caught off the coast of Australia and weighed an impressive 1,785 lbs. The catch was made by angler Kevin James Clapson.
This particular achievement has sparked some debate as people had different opinions on whether or not it was a true record-breaking catch. When Angler Kevin James Clapson weighed his Tiger shark of massive proportions in 2004, he believed he had surpassed a record set 40 years prior.
However, the verdict was that his catch was merely 11 ounces heavier than Walter Maxwell's catch from 1964. Therefore, instead of breaking the record, it was considered a tie.
1. White Shark – 2,664 lbs
Location: Ceduna, Australia.
Year: April 21, 1959.
The White Shark, also known as the Great White Shark, is perhaps the most infamous and feared shark species in the world.
In 1959, angler Alfred Dean caught the largest White Shark ever recorded in history, weighing in at an incredible 2,664 pounds. The shark was caught off the coast of Australia and took nearly eight hours to reel in.
Nowadays, Great White Sharks are considered a protected species in most places, which means that it's highly unlikely that anyone will surpass Dean's record in the foreseeable future.
The backstories of these massive fish catches are just as impressive as the size of the fish themselves. But, you will notice that a lot of these records date back to at least a few decades.
In the past, catching fish and releasing them back into the water was not a common practice, and rules regarding fishing were not as stringent as they are now. Nevertheless, the fishermen who caught the fishes you've just read about in this article exhibited remarkable expertise, persistence, and teamwork. These individuals have achieved remarkable feats in the history of fishing.
With today’s rules that prioritise protecting these magnificent creatures, it will make it very unlikely for anyone to break these records anytime soon. However, this isn't something you should be upset about as we can look forward to more of these fascinating creatures swimming in the oceans for many more years to come. And even if we forget how remarkable these creatures are, we can always refer to lists like this one to remind us all of their greatness.