Best of Summer Fishing: 15 Catches That Will Blow Your Mind

Best of Summer Fishing: 15 Catches That Will Blow Your Mind

It's certainly true that fish can be caught anywhere there's water, and year-round and our readers provide constant proof. But the long days and warm nights between Memorial Day and Labor Day provide some of our fondest fishing memories. As the leaves change and the sweatshirts emerge, we're hoping your summer fishing was memorable. In case you missed them, here are some of the most astounding summertime catches from around the world. From fish that are only accessible by helicopter, to state and world records and even species we've never heard of, these 15 catches this summer amazed us most, and we know they will have the same effect on you.

World Record Shortraker Rockfish

The Catch: A 40-pound, 11-ounce shortraker rockfish. The fish broke the previous all-tackle world record of 35 pounds, 13 ounces.

The Angler: Eric Christopher, of Wahoo, Nebraska.

The Place: The rockfish was caught while fishing Cross Sound, off Alaska on June 22.

The Method: Christopher was jigging in deep water.

Why It Amazed Us: This catch is almost too good to be true. We'll admit, the shortraker rockfish isn't exactly a household name. But we've got a guy from a town named after a fish (Wahoo) that's about as far from the ocean as you can get, catching an enormous saltwater beast of a fish. And just look at the thing! We wouldn't blame Christopher for shouting out his hometown's name when he saw the size of his prize.


Image via International Game Fish Association

Maryland State Record Largemouth Bass

The Catch: An 11-pound, 6-ounce largemouth bass, which broke the Maryland state record of 11 pounds, 2 ounces.

The Angler: 12-year-old Colton Lambert.

The Place: Lambert caught the bass in his hometown of Huntingtown, Md.

The Method: Lambert was using a plastic worm.

Why It Amazed Us: Okay, first of all this kid is Twelve! He did what no Maryland angler has been able to do in 30 years. But that's just where it starts. Secondly, he was fishing a small farm pond. That means this fish didn't get this big by accident. It must have avoided all means of treachery and angling tactics for a decade to put on this heft. However Lambert was working his plastic offering, we could all certainly use a lesson. Perhaps most impressively, he was fishing with only 8-pound-test line. To land a 6-pound bass on 8-pound-test is difficult, let alone one twice that size. The football-shaped bass, 26 inches long and nearly 18 inches around, is certainly one Lambert will never forget.


Image via Maryland DNR

Record-Breaking Arizona Flathead

The Catch: A 76.52-pound flathead catfish, breaking the record for the largest flathead cat ever caught in Arizona.

The Angler: Ed Wilcoxson, but you can call him Flathead Ed.

The Place: Bartlett Lake, Arizona (Just north of Phoenix).

The Method: Flathead Ed was fishing a live 2-pound carp when he caught this beast, which broke the previous state record by more than two pounds.

Why It Amazed Us: A guy named Flathead Ed catches a state-record fish using an Ugly Stick and a live carp as bait? This guy is the greatest thing the West has seen since Wyatt Earp. And check out that '˜stache. Flathead Ed says that he sleeps on the water at times, waiting for a catfish bite. He said he once spent three weeks straight out on the water. Last year he fished 39 weekends. We'll do the math for you, there are only 52 of them.


Image via Arizona DNR

Controversial California Mako Shark

The Catch: An 11-foot, 1,323-pound mako shark.

The Angler: Jason Johnston of Mesquite, Texas.

The Place: Huntington Beach, Calif.

The Method: Caught on a live bonita.

Why It Amazed Us: Johnston is under fire from so-called animal rights groups around the globe for killing this fish. Let us examine the facts, shall we? Anglers in California are allowed to keep two mako sharks per outing, assuming they are properly caught and with the necessary license. The fish was undoubtedly a potential world record shark, a fact obvious to all the men aboard the boat. And lastly, let us not forget, mako sharks are delicious. So what exactly did this guy do wrong? The answer is that the size of his catch and the surrounding publicity just make him a target for ignorant name-callers. No one is more protective of, or concerned about, the quality and future of our fisheries than talented and successful anglers like Johnson. We applaud his catch and potential record.


Image via New Fishall Bait Co.

Potential Record Oregon Sunfish

The Catch: A 28.18-pound opah.

The Angler: Rick Shapland of Molalla, Oregon.

The Place: Off the coast of Westport, Oregon.

The Method: They were fishing a live anchovy for tuna.

Why It Amazed Us: The opah, more commonly known as a sunfish or moonfish, was far, far from its home waters when it wandered along the Oregon coast. They're a popular dish in Hawaiian restaurants, but that's a long way from the Pacific Northwest. If certified, the fish is a potential state record, and one we're guessing would stand for a long, long time. Shapland saved a lot of money on vacation expenses when this tropical fish just came to him.


Image via Ocean Sportfishing Charters

776-pound Pacific Bluefin Tuna

The Catch: A 776-pound pacific bluefin tuna.

The Angler: Kevin Baker.

The Place: Greymouth, New Zealand.

Why It Amazed Us: First of all, this fish, if sold on the Japanese market, would be worth an estimated $70,000. What's more amazing, Baker plans to mount the monstrosity on his wall at home. The largest pacific bluefin caught on rod and reel before his achievement was a 716-pound tuna, meaning he's got a good shot at shattering the record. It took him only 40 minutes to best the beast, even though it hit at 3 a.m. The biggest tuna Baker had caught prior to this was less than 100 pounds, so this was an upgrade, to be sure.


Image via Sun Live New Zealand

GA State Record Longnose Gar

The Catch: A 30-pound, 13-ounce longnose gar.

The Angler: Gerald Kennedy of Murrayville, Georgia.

The Place: The Chattahoochee River, Georgia.

Why It Amazed Us: Gar aren't easy to catch to begin with and they're certainly not the most popular game fish in Georgia waters. The previous state record, just nine ounces lighter, had stood since 2008. One look at this lethal beast can illustrate just how many tools they might employ to avoid coming boatside. If you're planning on going gar fishing in Georgia, we do have a suggestion for a week to do it in next year. Kennedy caught his fish on September 4, breaking the record that had stood since 2008. The previous record fish was caught on'¦ September 5.


Image via Georgia DNR

Record Lake Erie Carp

The Catch: A 53.65-pound carp.

The Angler: Patrick Johnson of Toledo, Ohio.

The Place: In the Sandusky area of Lake Erie.

The Method: Johnson was bowfishing, hence the record.

Why It Amazed Us: First off, Johnson broke the previous record by six pounds, no small feat. We are guessing there are some deer out there that have been taken with a bow that weighed about as much as this carp. An amazing fish, any way you slice it.


Image via OWO State Record Fish Committee

Record Mississippi Bull Shark

The Catch: A 164-pound, 6- ounce bull shark.

The Angler: Eric Slate, of Cordova, Tennessee.

The Place: The Gulf of Mississippi.

Why It Amazed Us: You'd think that bigger bull sharks would have been caught off the coast of Mississippi in the past, but you'd be wrong. The standing record was a 130-pound fish caught in 2009. So, we have to tip our cap to Slate for being aware of the standing record and especially for breaking it. We're wondering how long it will hold up, since Florida scientists have recently tagged bull sharks estimated to weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds. Slate caught the fish in August.


Image via Mississippi Department of Marine Resources

First-Time Marlin Catch

The Catch: A 358-pound swordfish.

The Angler: Kurt Lorenz caught the swordfish in early September.

The Place: Fishing out of Lewes Harbor Marina, Delaware, the anglers hooked the fish in Poor Man's Canyon.

The Method: The anglers aboard Candy's Reel Choice were fishing in 1400 feet of water when the sword hit. It took just short of three hours to bring the fish up through that much water.

Why It Amazed Us: There is a passage in the Old Man and the Sea where tourist onlookers, examining the remains of Santiago's giant marlin, ravaged by sharks, ask the locals what the fish is. The language barrier causes the locals to think they must be asking what happened to the marlin, and respond 'œTiburon. Eshark.' One tourist replies: 'œI didn't know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails.' Lorenz must have felt like Santiago when passersby commented about the amazing size of the 'œwhite marlin,' he caught.

The only thing that could make this catch more impressive is if it were a white marlin. Still, 358-pound swordfish are supposed to be the distinct property of Florida waters. More amazing still, it was Lorenz' first swordfish. He said his hands were covered in blisters from the fight. The folks at Lewes Marina described it as a 'œpumpkin' swordfish, a variety that spends its life on the bottom of the ocean feeding off crustaceans. Its diet gives it a distinct color, and they say, a better taste. The flesh is a more pale, pinkish shade, according to the fishermen at Lewes Marina.


Image via Lewes Marina, Delaware

Arctic Char from Newfoundland

The Catch: A 17-pound, 8-ounce Arctic char.

The Angler: Jim Sollecito of Syracuse, New York.

The Place: Sollecito was fishing on Newfoundland's Tasiuyak Lake.

The Method: Sollecito was casting a Muddler Minnow on 12-pound-test tippet.

Why It Amazed Us: There are times in February when Syracuse New York, where I spent four years as an undergrad, can feel like the remote Arctic tundra. But Sollecito went for the real thing. The area he was fishing in Newfoundland when he caught this beautiful Arctic char on August 8 was so remote, it could only be reached by helicopter. The char breaks the current tippet record for the species by a half pound.


Image via International Game Fish Association

VA State Record Hybrid Striped Bass

The Catch: A 13-pound, 9-ounce hybrid striped bass.

The Angler: Joshua Neece of Dante, Virginia.

The Place: Flanagan Reservoir in Dickenson County, Virginia.

The Method: Neece was using a shiner for bait.

Why It Amazed Us: When you consider that a hybrid striper is a cross with a white bass, this fish is certainly a pig. The old Virginia state record, before Neece came along, was 9 ounces lighter. The state has been stocking the hybrids in the reservoir since 1999, which might explain how this one grew to be so enormous. Neece was only confident that the fish would qualify him for an award. When he took it to be officially weighed at a nearby grocery store, it was a Virginia Fish and Game official that brought it to his attention that it might be a little bit more significant than that. This thing is a veritable swimming football. It was only seven inches longer (28 inches) than it was wide (21 inches). Neece caught the fish on June 19.


Image via Virginia Department of Fish and Game

513-Pound Buzzworthy Halibut

The Catch: A 513-pound halibut.

The Angler: Marco Liebenow of Germany.

The Place: Off the coast of Kjolleford, Norway.

Why It Amazed Us: Mr. Liebenow, who said this fish felt 'œlike a submarine,' is reported to have had 'œa few beers,' to celebrate his catch. We'd have had more than a few if we potentially broke the world record for Atlantic halibut, which Marco may very well have done. Apparently, it took four men to bring this beast over the rails. Liebenow apparently 'œdonated,' the fish to a local market. We're wondering how much he could have gotten for it. We doubt they made note of it across the pond, but the fish was caught on the 4th of July.


Image via The Daily Mail

Potential World Record Snakehead

The Catch: A 17-pound, 6-ounce snakehead.

The Angler: Caleb Newton of Spotsylvania County.

The Place: Newton was fishing on Virginia's Aquia Creek.

The Method: Not that snakeheads are picky, but Newton was burning a crankbait when this beast hit.

Why It Amazed Us: This fish could potentially bust the world record, which currently hails from Japan and has stood for nine years. Newton caught the fish on June 1, targeting it first with a rubber worm, then switching to a crankbait. It's not Newton's first rodeo, the plumber has caught snakeheads as big as 14 pounds before, but none like this. He's hoping Berkley (he used their line) will hook him up with some free gear since he fishes regularly in tournaments like this one.


Image via Fredericksburg Star

14-Pound Canadian Bull Trout

The Catch: A 14-pound, 15-ounce bull trout.

The Angler: Gary Carter (not the Blue Jay).

The Place: Lodgepole Creek, Fernie, Canada.

The Method: Fernie was casting a white bucktail jig on 8-pound-test line.

Why It Amazed Us: The record for a bull trout landed on 8-pound-test line is currently 13 pounds, 8 ounces. It took Carter 15 minutes to carefully play this fish when he hooked it on August 18. Perhaps our favorite part is that, after documenting the fish's size, Carter released it.


Image via International Game Fish Association

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