Sea Monsters! The 10 Biggest Trophy Fish Ever Caught in New York (5 are more than 1,000 lbs!)

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: October 4, 2022
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Whether you enjoy leisurely lake fishing or heart racing deep sea adventures, New York state offers both. There is excellent freshwater and saltwater fishing in New York. Some of the most massive catches in the world have been in the state or just off shore. Here are the 10 biggest trophy fish ever caught in New York!

Freshwater Records

5) Northern Pike: 46 lbs 2 oz

Pike have long bodies and an abundance of sharp teeth.

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Pike are a long, torpedo-shaped fish with rows of sharp spikey teeth. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends many of the larger Adirondack lakes in New York for the best pike fishing. The biggest pike ever caught in New York was pulled from Great Sacandaga Lake by Peter Dubuc. This record breaking 46 lbs 2 oz pike is the oldest freshwater record on the books! Dubuc reeled in this beauty on September 15, 1940 making it an 82-year-old record to date!

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4) Chinook Salmon: 47 lbs 13 oz

A fisherman with a Chinook Salmon caught in Canada. They typically measure about 3 feet long and 30 pounds in weight.
Chinook salmon typically measure about 3 feet long and 30 pounds in weight.

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When you think of salmon fishing you may think of Washington or Oregon but salmon can be found in many lakes, rivers, and seas across the US. New York actively stocks Lake Ontario with two kinds of salmon – coho and chinook. Every year they add about 1.7 million chinook salmon and 250,000 coho to the lake and its surrounding tributaries.

The record breaking chinook salmon wasn’t from Lake Ontario, but, get this, from the Salmon River! The Salmon River does empty into Lake Ontario so it is likely this lucky catch was one of the originally stocked salmon. The biggest chinook in New York was a 47 lbs 13 oz salmon caught by Kurtis Killian on September 7, 1991.

3) Common Carp: 50 lbs 6 oz

Largest fish in New York - the common carp can exceed 50 pounds!
The largest common caro in New York weighed an incredible 50 pounds 6 ounces!

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Carp are a full-bodied fish that has large scales and the common carp is one of the biggest fish in New York. On May 12, 1995, Charles Primeau Sr. baited his hook with a simple night crawler which is just what the biggest carp ever caught in New York was hungry for. Primeau reeled in a 50 lbs 6 oz common carp from the Tomhannock Reservoir. The Tomhannock is about a 30-minute drive north east of Albany, NY. Other fish that can be found in the Tomhannock include chain pickerel, rock bass, black crappie, and walleye.

2) Striped Bass: 60 lbs

Striped Bass
Striped bass are distinguished by the horizontal stripes running down their body

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Weighing in 10 pounds heavier than the carp was a striped bass that weighed 60 lbs. Striped bass are temperate bass and can actually be freshwater or saltwater. The biggest freshwater striped bass was caught by Eric Lester on the Hudson River. Lester was out fishing on May 14, 2014 when he reeled in this 53 inch striped bass (that is more than 4 feet long!). Striped bass have stripes that are horizontal along their bodies.

The world record striped bass weighed 81 lbs 14 oz and was so close to being caught in New York waters. It was just over the border, caught in the Long Island Sound but on the Connecticut side! Gregory Myerson caught it on August 4, 2011. So close to being a New York record!

1) Muskie: 69 lbs 15 oz

Musky or Muskellunge
The largest muskie caught in New York waters weighed almost 70 pounds!

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Muskellunge (muskie for short) are similar looking to pike, with elongated bodies and a mouth of sharp teeth. They are a popular sport fish and are often elusive and difficult to find. Fishing on the Buffalo Harbor, the upper and lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River are all great fishing spots for muskie.

The biggest muskie ever caught in New York was almost 70 lbs! It was pulled from the St. Lawrence River by Arthur Lawton on Sept. 22, 1957. The exact weight was 69 lbs 15 oz, and it measured 64 ½ inches long! That is more than 5 feet, definitely a trophy fish worth bragging about!

Saltwater Records

Now to some of the biggest coastal fish – from surf fishing to deep sea fishing there are enormous fish to be had off the coast of New York. Long Island is around 120 miles long with multiple fishing piers as well as charters for fishing further out. Captree State Park has four piers and is a popular location but there are plenty of spots to choose from. Of the five biggest saltwater fish on our list four of them are no longer allowed to be fished due to conservation reasons. These records have been retired: bluefin tuna, mako shark, blue marlin and great white shark. You can still try to beat the tiger shark record…if you dare. Remarkably all five on our list are more than 1,000 pounds!

5) Bluefin Tuna: 1,071 lbs

The massive bluefin tuna is one of the largest fish in New York
Bluefin tuna are some of the most powerful fish in the ocean

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You may be familiar with bluefin tuna from the popular television show Wicked Tuna. The fishermen in search of the biggest tuna on the show are looking for western Atlantic bluefins. Unfortunately, the population of bluefin tuna has been compromised due to overfishing over the past 50+years.

The record for the biggest bluefin tuna caught in New York is from 45 years ago. On August 21, 1977, Larry Thompson, from Montauk, NY, reeled in a 1,071 lbs bluefin. Bluefins are the largest of the tuna species and also the ones that migrate the furthest. So although this one was caught off the coast of New York the school it swam with could end up thousands of miles away!

4) Mako shark: 1,080 lbs

Shortfin mako shark with pilot fish.
Mako sharks are the fastest sharks in the world – something which makes them an even more fearsome predator

©Xavier ELIAS Photography/Shutterstock.com

One of the buggest fish in New York is the mako shark. The challenge with catching mako sharks are their speed. Shortfin makos are the fastest sharks in the sea and can reach speeds of 46 mph in short bursts. You can imagine the battle that may ensue after snagging a fish that can take off that fast.

The biggest mako shark ever caught in New York was caught by James Melanson on August 26, 1979. His shark weighed in at 1,080 lbs making it the all-time record catch. Mako sharks are considered endangered by the IUCN and no longer eligible for records so this record has also been retired.

3) Tiger Shark: 1,087 lbs

Largest Tiger Shark- Tiger Shark Swimming
Female tiger sharks are larger than males and the largest tiger shark in New York weighed an impressive 1,087 pounds

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The tiger shark populations are steady so anglers can still fish for tiger sharks and attempt to beat the trophy fish record. Just a few pounds heavier than the record mako shark, the biggest tiger shark weighed 1,087 lbs. Ken Rafferty, from Massapequa, NY, reeled in the massive shark off the coast of New York on July 23, 1986. Tiger sharks are easily identified by their dark gray striped pattern.

2) Blue Marlin: 1,174 lbs

Largest fish in New Yrok - the blue marlin is the second largest fish in the state
Marlins are among the fastest marine swimmers, reaching 68 mph in short bursts.

©iStock.com/LUNAMARINA

Blue marlins are another species of fish that are no longer allowed for records due to overfishing. Blue marlins have a long sword like a swordfish but their sword is rounded vs flat. They have a silvery blue black and white belly and are also extremely fast like mako sharks.

The biggest blue marlin ever caught in New York weighed in at 1,174 lbs and was caught by Bill Sweedler, of Westport, Connecticut. You can be sure the papers were all it up about this blue marlin and the tiger shark because both records were made within days of each other. The record blue marlin was caught on July 20, 1986, just three days before the record tiger shark. But wait, it gets better, read on to see what happens just two weeks later!

1) Great White Shark: 3,450 lbs

The great white shark is the largest fish in New York waters
Great white sharks are huge apex predators

©Ramon Carretero/Shutterstock.com

The biggest fish in New York is the notorious great white shark. Just two weeks after the massive tiger shark and record breaking blue marlin were caught, the biggest great white shark ever caught in New York was brought in. On August 6, 1986, Don Braddick, of Montauk, NY caught a 3,450 lbs white shark off the coast of New York. That is more than twice the size of the blue marlin and the biggest fish ever caught in New York, period.

Fishing for great whites is now prohibited and they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. The juvenile white sharks use the area around Long Island as a nursery during the warm summer months. This past summer there was an increase in the number of shark bites and sightings which has researchers evaluating the populations of sharks once again. For now the 3,450 lbs great white will remain the biggest trophy fish ever caught in New York.

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great white shark
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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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Sources
  1. Department of Environmental Conservation, Available here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7935.html
  2. Smithsonian, Available here: https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/sharks-rays/shortfin-mako-shark#
  3. Department of Environmental Conservation, Available here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7906.html#Records
  4. International Game Fish Association, Available here: https://igfa.org/igfa-world-records-search/