Skip to main content

10 World Fishing Records That'll (Probably) Never be Broken

10 World Fishing Records That'll (Probably) Never be Broken

I recently sent a note to Jack Vitek, the World Records Coordinator for the International Game Fish Association, about world fishing records that probably will never be broken. You could write a book about the topic as there are so many different fish species the IGFA recognizes world records for and one record is as likely not to be broken as another.  For the purpose of this article though, I asked Jack to narrow it down to 10 species that the Game & Fish/Sportsman audience could relate to. Some I agree with but there are others that I think I'll see fall in my lifetime.  Records are meant to be broken yes,  and these are probably safe for a while, but you never know when a new king will be crowned.What do you think? (Dylan Polk contributed to this gallery)


LARGEMOUTH BASS: 22 Pounds, 4 ounces

ANGLER: George W. Perry
LOCATION: Montgomery Lake, Georgia
DATE: June 2, 1932

ANGLER: Manabu Kurita
LOCATION: Lake Biwa Shiga, Japan
DATE: July 2, 2009

This one caught me by surprise because George Perry's 77-year-old record was tied just three years ago by a Japanese angler named Manabu Kurita on Lake Biwa in Shiga, Japan. But if you look at the list of state records from the U.S., there are only four records that top the 18 pound mark (GA, CA, MS, TX) and only one other state-record bass topped the 20 pound mark and that was Michael Arujo's 21 lbs. 12 oz bucketmouth caught on Lake Castaic in 1991.

SMALLMOUTH BASS: 11 pounds, 15 ounces

ANGLER: David Hayes
LOCATION: Dale Hollow Lake, TN/Kentucky
DATE: July 9, 1955

This record has endured in more ways then one. Hayes caught his massive smallmouth on Dale Hollow Lake on the Tennessee/Kentucky border with his wife Ruth and six-year-old son along for the ride. He was using a 600 series pearl Bomber and brought the fish in that weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces. The record stood until 1996 when an old affidavit was discovered from a dockhand that alleged the fish had been stuffed with sinkers and motor parts and its real weight was 8 pounds, 15 ounces. The IGFA, National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and State of Kentucky stripped Hayes of the record until an investigation revealed that the disgruntled dockhand's account was less than trustworthy and that he wasn't even present the day of the catch. The IGFA reinstated Hayes' world record in 2005.

Only six other bronzebacks have topped the 10 pound mark and the Hayes record is more than a pound heavier than John T. Gorman's Dale Hollow Lake catch in 1969.

One thing's for sure, if this record is ever broken, it'll probably be yanked out of the waters of Dale Hollow Lake. Six of the top 10 smallmouth bass have been caught there.

MUSKELLUNGE: 67 pounds, 8 ounces

ANGLER: Cal Johnson
LOCATION: Lake Court Oreilles, Hayward, Wisconsin
DATE: July 24, 1949

If you catch a potential world record fish, you'd better have your ducks in a row when it comes to weighing and certification. The late Cal Johnson can certainly attest to that fact as can several other anglers that might have had a new world record muskellunge on their line. Johnson caught his massive fish in 1949 with his son Phil along for the ride. The fish was weighed and measured at two different locations and all was well until in 2008, the World Record Muskie Association came out with a report containing scientific photo analysis they believe shows Johnson's fish couldn't have measured more than 54 inches and not the 60-1/4 inches that it was reported to be measured as. Naturally there were counter claims about the validity of the photographic evidence and the process used and both sides feel very strongly about it. Regardless, the IGFA, which is recognized as the custodian of world fishing records, has Johnson as the record holder and doesn't appear to have plans to strip Johnson of the record.

And if you do catch a massive musky, make sure to keep the handgun in the tackle box. In 1949, Louis Spray caught a 69 pound, 11 ounce 'lunge at the Chippewa Flowage. He used a .22-caliber handgun to kill the giant fish, which is against IFGA rules, excluding him from the world record.

NORTHERN PIKE: 55 pounds, 1 ounce

ANGLER: Lothar Louis
LOCATION: Lake of Grefeern, Germany
DATE: October 16, 1986

We are talking about world records and for the Northern Pike mark, you have to travel to Germany where Lothar Louis landed a 55 pound, 1 ounce monster. It's known that northern pike are generally larger in Europe and there have been rumors about giant fish that were almost caught that would have crushed Louis' fish, no record! I wouldn't be surprised to actually see this record fall from somewhere in Europe. Though, we're 26 years into this might safe for a while.

The biggest U.S. jack was caught at Sacandaga Lake in 1940 by Peter Dubuc. His giant fish weighed 46 pounds, 2 ounces and remains the U.S. record.

BLUEGILL: 4 pounds, 12 ounces

ANGLER: T.S. Hudson
LOCATION: Ketona Lake, Alabama
DATE: April 9, 1950.

The top two bluegill caught in the world were actually caught from the same suburban Birmingham, Alabama pond. Cole McKenzie set the record in 1947 with a four pound, 10 ounce fish and then three years later, using a technique learned from McKenzie, T.S. Hudson bettered that mark by two ounces with four pound, 12 ounce fish.

And maybe this is a record that might have been broken on more than one occasion if it wasn't for an angler's grumbling stomach and greased up frying pan!

BONEFISH: 19 pounds, 8 ounces

Image courtesy of IGFA

ANGLER: Brian Batchelor
LOCATION: Zululand, South Africa
DATE: May 26, 1962

Shallow water anglers on the prowl for bonefish would flip for what Brian Batchelor reeled in on May 26th, 1962. Using live prawn, be caught a 19 pound, 8 ounce trophy that bested William Badua's Hawaiian catch of 18 pounds, 2 ounces.

TARPON: 286 pounds, 9 ounces

ANGLER: Max Domecq
LOCATION: Rubane, Guinea-Bissau
DATE: March 20, 2003

Another great thing about fishing records is they can fall to anyone. Unlike an athletic pursuit or some feat requiring a special talent or skill, an angler can just be at the right place and time and land that catch of a lifetime that would turn anyone green with envy. That's the case with French angler Max Domecq and his world record tarpon catch he landed in 2003 fishing at Rubane, Guinea-Bissau, Africa. Domecq's very first tarpon bite EVER was his 286 pound, 9 ounce world record. That's not beginner's luck...that's buy-a-lottery-ticket-on-your-way-home-from-the-dock luck.

Thomas Gibson caught the best U.S. tarpon, a 230-pound monster, in 1993 in the West Delta Block region of Louisiana.

BLUEFIN TUNA: 1,496 pounds

ANGLER: Ken Fraser
LOCATION: Aulds Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
DATE: October 26, 1979

Ken Fraser's bluefin tuna catch is one of the most impressive fish caught on rod and reel of all time. Weighing a whopping 1,496 pounds, the fish was reeled in an amazing 45 minutes in Aulds Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada. The angler has written a book titled Possessed about his feat.

In 2003, Ron Roland landed a monster in Louisiana weighing 1,152 pounds south of South Pass.

SWORDFISH: 1,182 pounds

ANGLER: Louis Marron
LOCATION: Iquique, Chile
DATE: May 7, 1953

Fishing off the coast of Chile while trolling bonito, Louis Marron landed this magnificent swordfish that weighed 1,182 pounds.

Edmund Levitt set the New Jersey state record with his 530 lb. beast caught in 1964, while B.H. Peace III caught a 500-pound swordfish in 1978 that's a South Carolina state record.


ANGLER: Paulo Amorim
LOCATION: Vitoria, Brazil
DATE: February 29, 1992

Leap year comes once every four years...catching a world-record, 1,402 pound, Atlantic Blue Marlin happens once in a lifetime. Paula Amorim was fishing off of Votoria, Brazil on Leap Day in 1992 when a 162-inch Atlantic Blue Marlin ate a pink-and-white Mold Craft Super Chugger that was attached to Amorim's line.

Bill Sweedler's New York Atlantic Blue Marlin caught in 1986 weighed an incredible 1,174 pounds.

Dylan Polk contributed to this gallery

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Bass Crash Course: Offshore Cranking

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Trika Rods

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

New Shimano Baitcasters

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Incredible Turkey Audio: Tommy Allen Punches his Minnesota Tag IN THE SNOW

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

First Turkey Ever: Perfect Conditions Make for a Short Hunt

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Bass Crash Course: Bass Froggin' Game Plan

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

What to Know Before Going Off-Road

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Off-Road Safety Tips and Techniques

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

The Right Tires for Off-Roading

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Bass Crash Course: Shallow-Water Power Lures

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Minnesota Double Down: First Visit to New Farm Goes Perfectly

How to make windy conditions work for you when you're on the water.

Bass Crash Course: Bass Fishing in the Wind

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now