The Biggest Fish Ever Caught (By IGFA Standards)

By: Yara Simón  | 
If your first thought upon seeing this huge fish is, "Wow, I wonder if I could catch that," then you're a special breed of human. Derek Berwin / Getty Images

Not every fisherman wants the glory. Some have caught immense fish and released them without laying claim to a world record. But for those who want the world to know they caught a big fish, the International Game Fish Association keeps a record of such accomplishments.

Read on to learn more about the biggest fish ever caught, on record, by weight and length.


What Is the International Game Fish Association?

Established in 1939, the International Game Fish Association promotes the conservation of game fish and espouses ethical practices. The IGFA maintains a database of world-record fish that you can narrow down to different categories such as all tackle, freshwater fish and saltwater fish.


The All Tackle World Records

Five of the biggest fish ever caught, as validated by the IGFA, are saltwater fish.

5. Bluefin Tuna, 1979

In Nova Scotia, Canada, Ken Fraser caught a 1,496-pound (678.58-kilogram) Atlantic bluefin tuna. It took Fraser 45 minutes to reel in the large fish.


4. Black Marlin, 1953

In 1953, Alfred Glassel Jr. caught a 1,560-pound (707.61-kilogram) black marlin in Cabo Blanco, Peru.

3. Greenland Shark, 1987

On October 18, 1987, Terje Nordtvedt caught a 1,708-pound, 9-ounce (775-kilogram) Greenland shark in Trondheimsfjord, Norway. These sharks can potentially live more than 500 years.

2. Tiger Shark, 2004

In Ulladulla, Australia, Kevin James Clapson caught a massive shark, weighing in at 1,785 pounds (810 kilograms). Typically found in tropical and subtropical water, these giant fish can measure 25 feet long.

1. Great White Shark, 1959

In 1959, Alfred Dean caught the largest fish on record, a great white shark that weighed more than a ton off the southern coast of Australia. Using a porpoise for bait, he set the all tackle world record with a 2,664-pound (1,208.37-kilogram) fish.

It isn't the largest white shark caught — for example, Donnie Braddick landed a 3,450-pound behemoth in 1986 — but it is the biggest to qualify under IGFA's standards.

Dean, who holds two other records, will likely continue to have the record for biggest white shark because it is not legal to catch them in all places. The white shark is a vulnerable species.

In the United States, for example, fishermen cannot land white sharks unless they "hold the appropriate permits" to "intentionally fish for white sharks with rod and reel gear as long as they release the shark immediately without removing the shark from the water and without further harming the shark."


The Biggest Freshwater Fish

The biggest freshwater fishes are not nearly as big as the saltwater ones. The largest freshwater fish caught is a 297-pound Wels catfish. Attila Zsedely landed the fish in River Po, Italy, in 2010.

The Guinness Book of World Records, however, recognizes another freshwater fish as the biggest: a 661-pound stingray that fishermen caught in Cambodia in 2022. Before that, the Guinness Record holder was the 646-pound Mekong giant catfish caught in Thailand. However, since it wasn't one person's achievement, it does not count under IGFA.