The 10 Largest Fish Ever Caught in Massachusetts

A diver swimming with a Shortfin mako shark. These sharks are aggressive predators and should be avoided if possible.
© wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: October 27, 2023

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Massachusetts is home to hundreds of impressive freshwater and saltwater fishing records. You’d be surprised at just how large these fish species can get! The largest fish ever caught within this northeastern state weighed over 1,300 pounds. Follow along to discover the 10 largest fish ever caught in Massachusetts and fun facts about each.

1. Shortfin Mako Shark (1,324 Pounds)

Shortfin mako shark swimming just under the surface, offshore, about 50 kilometers past Western Cape in South Africa. This picture was taken during a blue water baited shark dive.

On average, a shortfin mako shark can reach 8.2 to 10.5 feet long.

©wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

The largest fish ever caught in Massachusetts was a massive 1,324-pound shortfin mako. According to the Massachusetts Saltwater Game Fish Records, Kevin Scola caught this hefty shark on July 27, 1999, in Massachusetts Bay. Shortfin mako sharks rarely weigh over 1,200 pounds. 

Shortfin mako sharks are sometimes confused with great whites. Sadly, these large sharks are currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List as they face many threats. Shortfin mako sharks are fast-growing sharks. On average, they are between 8.2 to 10.5 feet long. They also have a wide range. You can find shortfin makos throughout temperate and tropical seas worldwide. They are super fast swimmers and travel thousands of miles every year.

2. Bluefin Tuna (1,228 Pounds)

Bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus saltwater fish in Mediterranean

The largest bluefin tuna ever caught in Massachusetts weighed 1,228 pounds.

©lunamarina/Shutterstock.com

Another massive fish caught in Massachusetts is the bluefin tuna. In 1984, Marlene Goldstein caught a 1,228-pound bluefin tuna in Cape Cod Bay and has held the Massachusetts state record since. Bluefin tuna are thick saltwater fish reaching impressive lengths and weights. 

On average, bluefin tunas weigh about 500 pounds but may weigh as little as 130 pounds. Mature bluefin tuna range from 6.6 to 8 feet long. Although some sources state that this fish species may reach up to 2,000 pounds, the largest recorded specimen weighed 1,497 pounds. Globally, bluefin tunas are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Currently, these fish are threatened by overfishing and oil spills.

3. Blue Marlin (873 Pounds)

Fastest Water Animals

Marlins are among the fastest marine swimmers, reaching ~110 km/h (68 mph) in short bursts.

©iStock.com/LUNAMARINA

The third largest fishing record in Massachusetts is the blue marlin state record. The largest blue marlin ever recorded in Massachusetts weighed 873 pounds. Dr. Ralph DeLaTorre caught this impressive fish in 2015.

Atlantic blue marlins are large fish endemic to the Atlantic Ocean. They are easy to identify from their sharp and long bill, which they use to stun and kill their prey. Although an 873-pound blue marlin is incredible, it’s nothing compared to the maximum published weight, 1,803 pounds. Blue marlins are also very long, with a maximum length of 16 feet. On average though, Atlantic blue marlins are 11 to 14 feet long.

4. Swordfish (646 Pounds)

Swordfish on the beach

Swordfish can easily reach 10 feet long.

©SVITO-Time/Shutterstock.com

Like blue marlins, swordfish have long bills that help them hunt. The largest swordfish ever caught in Massachusetts was 646 pounds. Albert Little caught this big fish in 1972 in Nomans Land Island. Swordfish are favorites for many anglers. These large and long fish are strong and put up a fight.

Swordfish are very migratory fish with a massive distribution. They live and travel through tropical and temperate parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Currently, they are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List and face many threats, including overfishing. Swordfish, on average, typically reach 10 feet long, although the largest recorded swordfish was 14 feet and 11 inches. The heaviest recorded swordfish weighed about 1,500 pounds, nearly three times the size of the Massachusetts state record!

5. Thresher Shark (630 Pounds)

Common thresher sharks are pelagic and live in the deep ocean.

Common thresher sharks are pelagic and live in the deep ocean.

©bearacreative/Shutterstock.com

Next on our list of the largest fish ever caught in Massachusetts is another shark, the thresher shark. These sharks are easy to spot and identify from their massive and unique heterocercal tail. So, what’s the largest one ever caught in the state? In 2011, Timothy Delude managed to reel in a tough 630-pound thresher shark while fishing in Martha’s Vineyard. The size of a thresher shark depends on the species. For example, common thresher sharks, which are the largest, may grow up to 1,100 pounds, or more! 

Thresher sharks are slender, and their tails are sometimes as long as their body. They are excellent hunters that aren’t considered a threat to humans. Thresher sharks mainly consume schooling fish and squid. They use their long tails to stab and stun their prey. Sadly, all species of thresher sharks since 2007 have been listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union.

6. Porbeagle Shark (495 Pounds)

Porbeagle Shark, Animal Teeth, Beauty In Nature, Coastline, Color Image

Porbeagle sharks can weigh up to 510 pounds.

©birdsonline/ via Getty Images

The sixth-largest fishing record in Massachusetts is also a shark, the porbeagle shark, a mackerel shark in the family Lamnidae with a wide range. You can find this thick shark in the cold and temperate marine waters of the North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere. In Massachusetts, the largest porbeagle shark caught was 495 pounds. Most porbeagle sharks though rarely weigh over 300 pounds. Jesse Siegel caught this massive shark in 2011 in Martha’s Vineyard. The largest porbeagle shark ever caught though was 510 pounds.

Porbeagle sharks have stout bodies and large black eyes. Interestingly, the number and arrangement of teeth depend on the region. These sharks are also long. They can measure anywhere from 6 to 12 feet long.

7. Blue Shark (485 Pounds)

blue sharks, Prionace glauca, off Cape Point, South Africa

Blue sharks struggle and suffer in captivity. Attempts to keep them in aquariums have all failed, although some were successful for a short time.

©Alessandro De Maddalena/ via Getty Images

Yet again, the next largest fishing record in Massachusetts is also a shark, the blue shark. Blue sharks travel long distances and may reach lengths of up to 10 feet or more. These large requiem sharks live throughout deep waters in the world’s temperate and tropical oceans. In Massachusetts, the largest blue shark ever caught weighed 485 pounds and 2 ounces. 2011 was a popular year for record-breaking fish as Ethan Lynch caught this large blue shark in Jeffreys Ledge that same year.

Blue sharks are very fast fish. Like the other sharks on this list, they face many threats. Blue sharks are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Blue sharks are very migratory and need space. Like great whites, they struggle in captivity and suffer.

8. Halibut (321 Pounds)

Halibut on a fishing line

Halibut is a common name referring to the different flatfish species.

©Israel Patterson/Shutterstock.com

Moving away from sharks, the next largest fish ever caught in Massachusetts was the halibut. The name halibut though can refer to about three different types of flatfish within the genera Hippoglossus and Reinhardtius. You can find Atlantic halibut off the coast of Massachusetts. Atlantic halibut are favorite for many anglers. They are difficult to catch and may weigh up to 600 pounds! A lucky angler, Norman Cournoyer, caught the state record halibut in Massachusetts Bay. He caught this large 321-pound fish on July 21, 1965.

9. Bigeye Tuna (319 Pounds and 5 Ounces)

Bigeye tuna fish may weigh up to 400 pounds.

©MikeCloudStock/Shutterstock.com

The ninth largest fish caught in Massachusetts is the bigeye tuna, which is hard to miss. Bigeye tunas are members of the family Scombridae. These fish are found nearly everywhere, except for the Mediterranean Sea. Due to overfishing and increasing ocean temperatures, bigeye tunas are threatened. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

In Massachusetts, the largest bigeye tuna caught 319 pounds and 5 ounces! Daniel Bliss caught this nearly 320-pound monster fish in 2018. The bigeye tuna all-tackle angling record is 392 pounds.

10. Yellowfin Tuna (187 Pounds)

Yellowfin tuna out in the open ocean in crystal clear blue water

The average

yellowfin tuna

weighs 180 pounds but can get much larger.

©Al McGlashan/Shutterstock.com

Last but not least is the yellowfin tuna. The largest yellowfin tuna ever caught in Massachusetts was 187 pounds. Angler, Mark Bojoukos caught this almost 200-pound fish in Nantucket on August 5, 1990.

Yellowfin tuna fish live in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. They are common and listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Although 187 pounds is impressive, yellowfin tuna may weigh as much as 400 pounds.


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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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