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October 25, 2001

Tiny Records

What saltwater fish actually have the smallest-size world records?

Q: Everyone talks about the largest world-record fish, but my question is about the smallest world records. My friend says a world record can't be less than 1 pound, but what saltwater fish actually have the smallest-size world records? - Eric Mason, Wichita, Kansas

A: Your friend is right. In order to qualify for an International Game Fish Association world record, a catch must weigh a minimum of 1 pound. One might assume that all world records would actually be larger, but in fact the 1997 world-record kelp bass, caught in the 2-pound tippet fly-rod category, weighed in at exactly 1 pound. Other 1997 saltwater fly tackle world records less than 2 pounds included a 1-pound, 5-ounce black sea bass on 6-pound tippet; a 1-pound, 2-ounce pollock on 4-pound tippet; a 1-pound, 8-ounce black skipjack on 2-pound tippet and a 1-pound, 10-ounce tautog on 6-pound tippet. There was even a record 1-pound, 3-ounce weakfish caught on 20-pound tippet when that category was newly opened; in comparison, the 4-pound-tippet record for weakfish is over 14 pounds.
Fly-rod records aren't the only ones that can be light. Two-pound and 4-pound line-class categories offer many anglers an opportunity to think small. Line-class records under 2 pounds include a 1-pound, 15-ounce kelp bass on 4-pound line; a 1-pound, 15-ounce Pacific crevalle jack on 2-pound; a 1-pound, 1-ounce narrowbarred mackerel on 2-pound; a 1-pound, 10-ounce pollock on 2-pound and a 1-pound, 8-ounce bluefin trevally on 2-pound. Of course, there are still "vacant" records in some line-class categories for many species, which means that even a very small example of an otherwise large fish can qualify for a record. The best way to check is to join the IGFA and get a current copy of their World Record Game Fishes yearbook.