The Largest Fish Ever Caught on Rod and Reel
Fishing always seems like a simple, laid-back event. It’s usually a family-bonding experience accompanied by a slow, leisurely boat ride and a picnic. You catch a few fish, maybe grill some, then release the rest.
As with most things, there are outliers to this stereotype. Instead of a calm and easy affair, an angling trip can also turn into a strenuous game of tug-of-war between you and a giant inhabitant of the seas.
Regular-sized fish may be the norm, but there are also people who have caught large, record-breaking creatures with just their trusty rod and reel. Here are some of the largest fish ever caught over the years.
3,427-Pound Great White Shark, New York, 1986
The biggest fish recorded to be caught on rod and reel is a controversial one. In August 1986, Frank Mundus and Donnie Braddick caught a 3,427-pound great white shark off the coast of Montauk in New York.
The two anglers were reportedly using a 150-lb test line on a group of white sharks. According to a 2005 recounting of Mundus himself, their fight to reel in the shark went on for a total of one hour and 40 minutes.
A Controversial Record Breaker
Unfortunately, the catch is considered to be controversial. There are accusations that Mundus was only able to catch the great white shark after fishing by a dead whale. The dead whale allegedly attracted the sharks, which allowed Mundus and Braddick to bait and reel it in. This violates the record rules of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
However, according to Mundus, his boat pulled up to an already dead whale. By his account, the whale had large bloody bite marks the size of peach baskets and still had blood coming out of its mouth. He claims he and Braddick waited by the whale until midnight, when two sharks slammed into the whale.
IGFA-Approved Honorable Mentions
Although the 3,000-plus pound great white shark that Mundus and Braddick caught is tangled up in some controversy, there have been plenty more large catches over the decades that are recognized and approved by the IGFA.
The five official largest fish ever caught on rod and reel while saltwater fishing are the following:
2,664-Pound Great White Shark, Australia, 1959
The contested and official largest fish caught on rod and reel are both great white sharks but are almost 1,000 pounds and over 30 years apart.
The official IGFA-approved record is held by Alfred Dean, who caught a 2,664-pound great white shark while angling in Ceduna, Australia back in April 1959. Since great white sharks have become a protected species today, this record-breaking catch will likely stay unbeaten for years to come.
1,785-Pound Tiger Shark, Australia, 2004
The next largest fish ever caught by an angler using only a rod and a reel is another shark caught much more recently. This time, it was a tiger shark weighing 1,785 pounds and 11 ounces. It was caught by Kevin J. Clapson in ULladulla, Australia in March 2004.
This catch is tied with another record-setting catch from 1964 by Walter Maxwell. The only difference between the two catches was 11 ounces, leading the IGFA to rule in favor of a tie.
1,708-Pound Greenland Shark, Norway, 1987
In October 1987, Norwegian angler Terje Nordvedt caught another large shark while angling in Trondheimsfjord, Norway. He used a herring as bait to reel in a Greenland shark. The fish weighed a total of 1,708 pounds 9 ounces.
Greenland sharks are one of the largest living species of sharks in the world. It can grow up to seven meters or 23 feet long and live up to 500 years old, based on radiocarbon dating.
1,560-Pound Black Marlin, Peru, 1953
The next largest fish ever caught on rod and reel is a welcome change from the shark family that dominate the top three spots. Taking the fourth spot is a gigantic black marlin caught off the coast of Cabo Blanco in northern Peru in August 1953.
The 1,560-pound black marlin was caught by angling legend Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., who used a 130-lb line class and bait. This catch is one of the longest-standing IGFA world records. This particular fish can still be seen as part of a permanent exhibition in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
1,496-Pound Bluefin Tuna, Canada, 1979
Another non-shark entry rounds up the last spot in the top five largest fish caught by rod and reel. In October 1979, renowned heavy-tackle angler Ken Fraser used a mackerel as bait to reel in a 1,496-pound bluefin tuna. The huge fish was caught in Aulds Cove, off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.
This region is known for its bluefin tuna fishery. However, Fraser’s heavy-tackle angling record remains unbeaten to this day.
Making It Big
When it comes to saltwater fishing, a huge part of what gets you catches the size of those on this list is luck, patience, and perseverance. Of course, having the best fishing tackle matters too.
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