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50 record-breaking fish caught in the US

Rocksweeper // Shutterstock

50 record-breaking fish caught in the US

Catch and release trophy Pike.

For thousands of years—well over 100,000 by some estimates—humankind has fished the world’s waterways and oceans. Scientists have identified evidence of the practice in everything from cave paintings to archeological finds. While initially used as a means of survival, fishing has evolved into a hobby, a sport, and a huge commercial industry. In fact, today, some 600 million people globally depend on fishing for their livelihoods. It is also among the most popular outdoor hobbies in the U.S.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, more Americans went fishing than in any year in the previous decade. According to a 2022 study, many first-time anglers tried fishing to spend more time with friends and family in a socially distanced way. Others sought to replace hobbies they could no longer do because of the pandemic.

Although some competitive people compete aggressively in fishing tourneys and derbies, you don’t have to be a professional angler to catch a record-breaking fish. Marinas and tackle shops around the country allow anglers to weigh their catch on a certified International Game Fish Association scale and compare stats in the IGFA’s online records database. Sport-fishing enthusiasts can even have their scales certified by the IGFA for a $40 fee.

Stacker compiled a list of the top 50 record-breaking fish caught in the U.S. by weight using data from Land Big Fish. Sharks are not included in this roundup. The fish pictured below are not the actual record catch.

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Aleron Val // Shutterstock

#50. Channel catfish: 58 pounds

Closeup Channel catfish underwater

– Location: Lake Moultrie, South Carolina
– Record set by W.H. Whaley in 1905

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Pallid sturgeon: 60 pounds

USFWS employees release a pallid sturgeon into the Yellowstone River.

– Location: Yellowstone River – near Sidney, Montana
– Record set by Gene Sattler in 1979

Pi-Lens // Shutterstock

#48. Lake trout: 63 pounds, 1.92 ounces

Freshly caught Lake Trout in shallow water

– Location: Lake Superior, Ontario
– Record set by Hubert Hammers in 1952

M Huston // Shutterstock

#47. Muskellunge: 69 pounds, 15 ounces

smiling person holding a large silver green muskie fish

– Location: St. Lawrence River, New York
– Record set by Arthur Lawton in 1905

Peteri // Shutterstock

#46. White amur (Grass Carp): 70 pounds

Grass carp, underwater photo in lake.

– Location: Guntersville Reservoir (Nickajack tailwater), Tennessee
– Record set by Chad A. Killian in 2005

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Vladimir Wrangel // Shutterstock

#45. Grass carp: 73 pounds

Grass Carp swimming underwater

– Location: Guntersville Reservoir, Alabama
– Record set by Bradley D. Bridges, Sr. in 2012

Alus164 // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Bigmouth buffalo: 73 pounds, 2 ounces

Hands holding bigmouth buffalo

– Location: Lake Koshkonong, Wisconsin
– Record set by unknown in 2004

Rostislav Stefanek // Shutterstock

#43. Carp: 74 pounds

Carp fish swimming in pond

– Location: Pelahatchie Lake, Mississippi
– Record set by Curtis Wade in 1963

Alessandro De Maddalena // Shutterstock

#42. Longfin albacore: 74 pounds, 10.5 ounces

Albacore or longfin tuna caught off Atlantic Ocean.

– Location: Atlantic Ocean, New York
– Record set by John Maguire in 2000

Realest Nature // Shutterstock

#41. Red drum: 75 pounds

Three caught redfish laying on dock

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
– Record set by A. J. Taylor in 1905

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LiveOakPhotos // Shutterstock

#40. Channel bass: 75 pounds

Coastal Red Drum in a person’s hands.

– Location: Atlantic Ocean, Delaware
– Record set by James Vandetti in 1976

Nholtzha // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Spearfish: 76 pounds, 12.8 ounces

A Shortbill Spearfish caught off Great Barrier Island, New Zealand.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Maui – North Shore, Hawaii
– Record set by Alan Cadiz in 2011

Jesus Cobaleda // Shutterstock

#38. Great barracuda: 77 pounds

Great barracuda fish swimming underwater

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Olowalu – Maui, Hawaii
– Record set by Dean Hayashi in 1992

Fabien Monteil // Shutterstock

#37. Dolphin: 77 pounds, 8 ounces

Person holding a large dolphin fish.

– Location: Seabrook Island, South Carolina
– Record set by R. Riggs in 1905

slowmotiongli // Shutterstock

#36. Striped bass: 78 pounds, 8 ounces

Striped Bass underwater

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Atlantic City, New Jersey
– Record set by Al McReynolds in 1905

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AdrianNunez // Shutterstock

#35. Moray eel: 81 pounds

Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus).

– Location: Pacific Ocean – North Kona, Hawaii
– Record set by Jordan Kilkenny in 2011

Evannovostro // Shutterstock

#34. Atlantic sturgeon: 82 pounds

Big Atlantic sturgeon floats in deep blue salt water.

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Sandy Hook, New Jersey
– Record set by Glen Lasco in 1905

FtLaud // Shutterstock

#33. Dorado: 82 pounds

Dorado fish swimming by boat.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Kailua-Kona – Island of Hawai’i, Hawaii
– Record set by Kathy Hunter in 1987

Jaka Zvan // Shutterstock

#32. Greater amberjack: 85 pounds

School of greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili).

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Cape May, New Jersey
– Record set by Edwin Metzner in 1905

MPH Photos // Shutterstock

#31. Ling cod: 85 pounds

Person holding large ling cod

– Location: Atlantic Ocean, New York
– Record set by Fred Shay Jr. in 1984

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Ohio DNR // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Smallmouth buffalo: 88 pounds

Cropped view of person holding smallmouth buffalo fish

– Location: Lake Wylie, North Carolina
– Record set by Tony Crawford in 1993

David Vogt // Shutterstock

#29. Albacore tuna: 90 pounds

Albacore Tuna coming out of the water

– Location: Santa Cruz, California
– Record set by Don Giberson in 1997

Rostislav Stefanek // Shutterstock

#28. Bighead carp: 90 pounds

Bighead Carp swimming underwater in lake

– Location: Guntersville Reservoir, Tennessee
– Record set by Jeffery J. Rorex in 2005

USFWS National Image Library // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Black buffalo: 92 pounds, 8 ounces

Illustration of a black buffalo fish on green background

– Location: Lake Maumelle, Arkansas
– Record set by Kenny DeLuca in 2001

CSNafzger // Shutterstock

#26. White sturgeon: 96 pounds

White sturgeon fishing catch and release.

– Location: Kootenai River, Montana
– Record set by Herb Stout in 1905

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Kevin Cass // Shutterstock

#25. Chinook (King) Salmon: 97 pounds, 4 ounces

Chinook Salmon Underwater During Spawning

– Location: Kenai River, Alaska
– Record set by Lester Anderson in 1905

slowmotiongli // Shutterstock

#24. Atlantic cod: 98 pounds, 12 ounces

Atlantic Cod swimming underwater.

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Isle of Shoals, New Hampshire
– Record set by Alphonse Bielevich in 1969

Andrea Izzotti // Shutterstock

#23. Black drum: 115 pounds

Black drum fish swimming underwater

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Delaware Bay, Delaware
– Record set by Kenneth H. Smith in 1978

wildestanimal // Shutterstock

#22. Sailfish: 119 pounds

Sailfish hunting underwater

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Kailua-Kona – Island of Hawai’i, Hawaii
– Record set by Ed Sceery in 1983

M Huston // Shutterstock

#21. Flathead catfish: 123 pounds

Person holding a flathead catfish

– Location: Elk City Reservoir, Kansas
– Record set by Ken Paulie in 1998

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Greg Amptman // Shutterstock

#20. Big skate: 130 pounds

A big skate laying on the ocean floor.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Double Bluff, Washington
– Record set by Dan Cartwright in 1986

lunamarina // Shutterstock

#19. White marlin: 137 pounds, 8 ounces

White marlin fish jumping out of water

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Hudson Canyon, New Jersey
– Record set by Mike Marchell in 1905

M Huston // Shutterstock

#18. Blue catfish: 143 pounds

blue catfish fish being held horizontally by a smiling person.

– Location: Buggs Island Lake (Kerr Reservoir), Virginia
– Record set by Richard “Nick” Anderson in 2011

Saran Jantraurai // Shutterstock

#17. Paddlefish: 144 pounds

Paddlefish swimming in water

– Location: Kansas River, Kansas
– Record set by Ralph B. Westerman in 2004

Porco_Rosso // Shutterstock

#16. Amberjack: 151 pounds, 8 ounces

Amberjack swimming in water

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Kailua-Kona – Island of Hawai’i, Hawaii
– Record set by Justin Lazar in 2010

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zaferkizilkaya // Shutterstock

#15. Giant trevally: 191 pounds

Giant trevally swimming in water.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Lahaina – Maui, Hawaii
– Record set by Al Gadow in 1980

Danny Ye // Shutterstock

#14. Alligator gar: 279 pounds

Alligator gar swimming underwater

– Location: Rio Grande River, Texas
– Record set by Bill Valverde in 1951

Israel Patterson // Shutterstock

#13. Pacific halibut: 288 pounds

Halibut being lifted over the side of a fishing boat.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Swiftsure Bank, Washington
– Record set by Vic Stevens in 1989

NOAA Photo Library // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Warsaw grouper: 310 pounds

Nighttime photo of a Warsaw Grouper.

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
– Record set by C. D. Pratt in 1905

Lorna Roberts // Shutterstock

#11. Tuna: 322 pounds

Tuna fish swimming in ocean underwater.

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Baltimore Canyan, Delaware
– Record set by Mike Horner in 1992

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Shane Gross // Shutterstock

#10. Yellowfin tuna: 325 pounds

Yellowfin Tuna swimming Underwater

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Lanai, Hawaii
– Record set by Joey Cabell in 1990

Earth theater // Shutterstock

#9. Striped marlin: 339 pounds

Striped-Marlin swimming underwater.

– Location: Catalina Island, California
– Record set by Gary Jasper in 1985

Alienaire // Shutterstock

#8. Bigeye tuna: 375 pounds, 8 ounces

Row of fresh chilled bigeye tunas ready for market

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Ocean City, Maryland
– Record set by Cecil Browne in 1977

Jon C. Beverly // Shutterstock

#7. Halibut: 459 pounds

A bottom feeding Alaskan halibut pulled to the surface by a sport fisher.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Unalaska Bay, Alaska
– Record set by Jack Tragis in 1905


#6. Sturgeon: 468 pounds

Sturgeon swimming in water

– Location: San Pablo Bay, California
– Record set by Joey Pallotta in 1983

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bekirevren // Shutterstock

#5. Swordfish: 530 pounds

Swordfish jumping out of water with fishing boat in background

– Location: Atlantic Ocean – Wilmington Canyon, New Jersey
– Record set by Edmund Levitt in 1905

Joe Belanger // Shutterstock

#4. Giant seabass: 563 pounds

A rare giant black seabass with parasites attached to its head swims.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Maui, Hawaii
– Record set by Russell Mori in 1989

jurgal photographer // Shutterstock

#3. Bluefin tuna: 1,152 pounds

Atlantic bluefin tuna swimming underwater

– Location: 30 miles S of South Pass, Louisiana
– Record set by Ron Roland in 2003

kelldallfall // Shutterstock

#2. Black marlin: 1,205 pounds

Black Marlin jumping out of the water.

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Red Hill – Haleakala, Hawaii
– Record set by Lei Aloha in 1980

Colin MacDonald // Shutterstock

#1. Blue marlin: 1,805 pounds

Jumping Marlin fish in ocean with lure

– Location: Pacific Ocean – Waianae – Oahu, Hawaii
– Record set by Gail Choy-Kaleiki in 1970

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