Monster Fish!

Sport Fishing’s short guide to fishing for monsters — what to expect and where to catch 10 of the world’s biggest/toughest game fish.
An immense black marlin off Australia on the wire
Monster Fish! Kelly Fallon /

Fishing for Monster Marlin

Both of the largest species —blue marlin and black marlin — grow to nearly 1,500 pounds or more. IGFA world records: 1,402 pounds for blue marlin in the Atlantic (Brazil, 1992), and for black marlin, 1,560 pounds (Peru, 1953).

Largest marlin ever caught on rod and reel
Can you beat it? The IGFA all-tackle world-record black marlin has held since 1953, when Alfred Glassell caught it off Cabo Blanco, Peru.
(Learn more about “The Greatest Big-Game Fishing the World Has Ever Known.”)
Courtesy International Game Fish Association

It’s hard to top either the availability of gargantuan blacks off northeastern Australia or the infrastructure in Cairns to get to ‘em. Best shots will come in October through December. If you’re an Atlantic-kind-of person, consider Bermuda, Madeira or Ascension Island.

An immense black marlin off Australia on the wire
Mate aboard the Kekoa out of Cairns, Australia, has his hands full as he prepares to release a black marlin weighing in quadruple digits. Kelly Fallon /

Fishing for Monster Bluefin Tuna

Another species that can certainly exceed 1,500 pounds. The IGFA world record caught in 1979 weighed in at 1,496 pounds. Granders (of 1,000 pounds or more) are caught annually.

The world-record giant bluefin tuna
Four pounds shy of the 1,500 mark, Ken Fraser’s man-dwarfing bluefin has held down the all-tackle world-record slot since he caught it in 1979 off Nova Scotia. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

Not many choices here for anglers after the world’s biggest tuna: Head for the Canadian Maritimes (Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island) in late summer/fall. But book trips early; there’s lots of interest in this ultimate tuna fishery.

Enormous bluefin tuna at the boat
Bluefin weighing well over 1,000 pounds are taken every year off Canada’s Atlantic coast. (For more of this fishery, see “Fishing for the World’s Biggest Tuna.”) Capt. Josh Temple /

Fishing for Monster Tarpon

Tarpon likely grow to 300 pounds — a bit larger than the IGFA world record of 286 pounds, 9 ounces, caught in Guinea-Bissau in 2003.

World-record tarpon from Africa
Beaches and estuaries along Africa’s west coast have long been known to harbor tarpon the size of boats, as this all-tackle world-record beast weighing 286 pounds, 9 ounces, from Guinea-Bissau in 2003. (The guide, on right: lure-designer Patrick Sebile.) Courtesy International Game Fish Association

Head for Guinea-Bissau, Gabon or Sierra Leone’s Sherbro Island, on the west coast of Africa. The west coast of Florida and the Keys also produce tarpon in excess of 200 pounds.

A huge Florida Everglades tarpon is released by the boat.
An enormous tarpon is released boatside in the Florida Everglades. If you’re all about tarpon, check out “The World’s Best Tarpon Fishing Spots.” Adrian E. Gray

Fishing for Monster Dogtooth Tuna

Chances are dogtooth tuna easily over the 250 mark swim many waters; the largest caught so far per the IGFA all-tackle record weighed 236 pounds, 15 ounces, from Tanzania in 2015.

World-record dogtooth tuna from Tanzania
The all-tackle world-record dogtooth, 236 pounds, 15 ounces, from Tanzania. Despite their size, dogtooth tuna aren’t caught in large schools offshore in blue water, but most commonly around steep coral-reef dropoffs and reef passes. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

To catch your monster doggie, head for the tropical Indian or western Pacific Ocean. While big doggies show up in many areas, the line-class records are dominated by one country: Tanzania.

Trophy dogtooth tuna from the Andaman Islands
No tuna fights harder than dogtooth tuna; this trophy dogtooth went for a large spoon in the Andaman Islands. Capt. John Pearce

Fishing for Monster Swordfish

For decades, a swordfish more than 1,000 pounds has been an unreachable holy grail to serious broadbill anglers, but the fact remains that we know they can grow even larger: The IGFA all-tackle record of 1,182 pounds has remained in place since it was caught in 1953 off Chile.

The largest swordfish ever caught on rod and reel
For well over a half-century, this 1,182-pound broadbill from Chile remains the largest swordfish ever caught on rod and reel. Tackle and boats were, by modern standards, primitive, making this world record all the more amazing. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

In recent years, all signs for monster swords point to northern New Zealand, where line-class-record fish in the 800- to 900-pound range have been caught. (And keep an eye on a burgeoning daytime sword fishery off southwestern Australia from Tasmania to Sydney producing trophy fish.)

A swordfish angler lifts the head of a Gulf of Mexico 365-pounder.
Swordfish angler in the Gulf of Mexico takes a break after a long battle to bring in a huge broadbill. For tips on dropping deep for big swords, read “Northeast Daytime Swordfishing.” Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Fishing for Monster Giant Trevally

For its take-no-prisoners fight when hooked, anglers have likened this species to the junkyard dog of reefs throughout the far Pacific and Indian Ocean, the GT grows to at least 160 pounds, witness the IGFA all-tackle record of 160 pounds, 7 ounces, from Japan in 2006.

World-record giant trevally from Japan
Massive 160-pound, 7-ounce GT has held the all-tackle-record slot since its 2006 capture off Japan. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

When it comes to GT, monsters can lurk pretty much throughout their range. That said, considering the handful of line-class records well over 100 pounds, Japan, Hawaii (Kona) and southeast Africa are good bets, and many gargantuan GT have been released by anglers fishing the waters of southern Oman. Anyone embarking on a quest for monster trevally had better be in excellent shape.

A giant trevally caught on the Great Barrier Reef
A giant trevally caught on the Great Barrier Reef after it hit a large popper. Take a look at “The World’s Greatest Giant Trevally Catches.” Doug Olander / Sport Fishing
giant trevally
Large GT can be nearly unstoppable in their initial surge, hence many are lost to the rugged coral reefs they inhabit. Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Fishing for Monster Mako Sharks

While the size of a maximum mako is highly speculative, odds are that makos more than 1,500 pounds are out there somewhere. In any case, the IGFA all-tackle record stands at 1,221 pounds taken off Massachusetts in 2001.

World-record mako shark
The world-record mako from Massachusetts weighed 1,221 pounds and has held the title since 2001. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

The U.S. Northeast has produced some monsters, but trophy makos patrol all temperate/warm oceans, from southern Australia to Spain.

A up-close portrait of one of the ocean's most fearsome predators, a large mako shark
A up-close portrait of one of the ocean’s most fearsome predators, a large mako shark. Learn all about this amazing fish in “Mako! Supershark of the World’s Oceans.” Doug Perrine

Fishing for Monster Yellowfin Tuna

Setting your sights on a yellowfin well over 300 pounds is by no means unreasonable; we know that yellowfin exceed 400 pounds. The IGFA all-tackle record, caught off Cabo in 2012, weighed 427 pounds.

The world-record yellowfin tuna
At a whopping 427 pounds, this enormous yellowfin, caught off Cabo in 2012, is the current all-tackle world record. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

While Hawaii gives up yellowfin well over 200 pounds every year, and the Gulf of Guinea off west-central Africa years ago produced some tuna over 300, for the biggest yellowfin in the world, your best chances are in the Eastern Pacific, particularly off Baja and the Mexican mainland.

Massive yellowfin tuna landed in the Revillagigedos Islands off Baja
For yellowfin this size, odds are high in the Eastern Pacific; this catch was made in the Revillagigedos Islands off Baja. See “Ten Record-Setting Yellowfin Tuna Catches.” Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Fishing for Monster Humphead Maori Wrasse

These magnificent, freight-train-powerful reef dwellers, largest of wrasses, reportedly reach around 400 pounds. Perhaps because they’re widely protected and usually released, the world record has stood at a mere 43 pound, 10 ounces, since 1997. Anglers regularly hook — and often lose — far larger fish.

World-record humphead maori wrasse
Unlike most other world-record catches in this gallery, for Maori wrasse, the record of 43 pounds, 10 ounces, is a mere fraction of the species’ maximum size. Courtesy International Game Fish Association

Maori wrasse can be caught in large reef areas throughout the Indo-Pacific; big wrasse challenge anglers regularly around the Great Barrier Reef and Papua New Guinea, where large poppers attract their interest. At that point, stopping a monster wrasse can be just this side of impossible.

A massive humphead maori wrasse
Humphead Maori wrasse can grow to hundreds of pounds. Doug Perrine
A humphead maori wrasse of modest proportions from Australia's Great Barrier Reef
An angler on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef pauses for a quick photo before releaing a humphead Maori wrasse that he wrestled from the heavy coral. Doug Olander / Sport Fishing