The Largest Halibut Ever Caught

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: August 21, 2023
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Key Points

  • A Pacific halibut weighing an incredible 459 pounds caught in Alaska in June 1996 is the largest halibut ever caught on record.
  • Halibut are flatfish prized for their taste and known for their size, with adults measuring 50-150 pounds on average and more than 8 feet in length.
  • Pacific halibut is found in the North Pacific Ocean and caught mainly by longline and trawl fishing methods. Atlantic halibut lives in the North Atlantic Ocean and is caught by trawling, longlining, rod, and reel.

Halibut is one of the most sought after game around and is know for its intense fighting while on the line! These fish can grow absolutely huge, adding even more excitement for anglers looking to catch one of these deep-sea fish. Today, we are going to be looking at some of the records surrounding the halibut, specifically, how late they can get. Let’s discover the largest halibut ever caught, plus a bit of information about these interesting fish.

The Largest Halibut Ever Caught

The largest halibut ever caught on record is a Pacific halibut caught by Jack Tragis off Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in June 1996. According to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), this fish weighed in at a staggering 459 pounds, making it the all-tackle world record holder for this species. This is roughly equivalent to the weight of a full-grown adult Grizzly bear or two adult humans! There was another halibut that was caught off the coast of Alaska in 2003 that was reportedly larger, although the fish wasn’t officially documented and therefore isn’t listed on the records lists.

Tragis also holds the 130-pound line-class record for the same catch, which means that the fish was caught on a line with a 130-pound test. The record is sort of a testament to the Tragis’ skill since he was able to land the fish on that line.

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Where Exactly Is Dutch Harbor on a Map?

Dutch Harbor is an Alaskan port town located on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian chain. The town is situated on the northeast end of the island, and it overlooks the Iliuliuk Bay. Dutch Harbor is known for its strategic location as a gateway to the Bering Sea.

An Overview on Halibut

Fisherman in yellow slicker carries a large halibut on his shoulder

They are known for their size and can grow to be pretty big, with adults averaging between 50-150 pounds.

©Alexey Savchuk/Shutterstock.com

Halibut are a species of flatfish that are highly prized for their taste and their fight. They are known for their size and can grow to be pretty big, with adults averaging between 50-150 pounds, although some individuals can weigh much more.

Halibut have a broad, almost circular body shape and can grow to be over 8 feet long. They are usually a greenish or brownish color on their upper side, while the underside is white. They have a small mouth that sits on the underside of their body towards the sea floor. Halibut have both eyes on the right side of their head, which gives them a strange asymmetrical appearance that is common among flat fish.

Their diet consists mainly of fish, squid, and crustaceans. They are known to live long lives, with some individuals living up to 50 years. Halibut fishing is a regulated activity to ensure sustainable practices, in some places, there is a quota system to ensure the population is not overfished.

Halibut Distribution and Habitat

The

Pacific halibut is found in the North Pacific Ocean

, from the Bering Sea to California.

©T. Keith, U.S. Geological Survey / This image is in the public domain in the United States because it only contains materials that originally came from the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. For more information, see the official USGS copyright policy.

There are two main species of halibut: the Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus).

The Pacific halibut is found in the North Pacific Ocean, from the Bering Sea to California. They can grow to be very large, reaching up to 8 feet in length and weighing over 400 pounds. They are considered a valuable commercial fish species and are caught primarily by longline and trawl fishing methods.

The Atlantic halibut, on the other hand, is found in the North Atlantic Ocean and is considered to be a critically endangered species. They are much smaller than their Pacific counterparts, typically reaching lengths of around 4-5 feet and weighing up to 200 pounds. Atlantic halibut are caught primarily by trawling and longlining, but also by rod and reel.

Can You Eat Halibut?

A piece of cedar-planked halibut with cilantro

Halibut can be prepared in a variety of ways, but some popular methods include grilling, broiling, pan-frying, and baking.

©Foodio/Shutterstock.com

Halibut can be eaten and is considered to be a great fish. The flesh of the halibut is white, flaky and has a mild, sweet flavor. Generally, halibut is relatively sought after and is a prized fish in many settings.

Halibut can be prepared in a variety of ways, but some popular methods include grilling, broiling, pan-frying, and baking. It is often marinated or coated in herbs and spices before cooking to enhance its flavor. Halibut can also be used in soups, chowders and casseroles. It is also popularly served as a sushi, sashimi, and ceviche. It’s also a popular fish for fish and chips.

Are Halibut and Flounder the Same?

Flounder on the seabed

Flounder is mainly found in Atlantic.

©Brocken Inaglory / Creative Commons

Although halibut and flounder are quite similar in a lot of ways, they aren’t actually the same fish. Both are flatfish with rounded bodies and eyes on one side, but they are classified as to distinct species.

It’s usually easy to tell them apart, primarily because of the location they are found in. Halibut are generally larger and have a more robust flavor than flounder. Halibut are also found in colder waters and have a firm, white flesh. Flounder, on the other hand, are found in warmer waters and have a milder, delicate flavor. They also have a softer, more delicate flesh. Another main difference is that Halibut is both a Pacific and Atlantic species and Flounder is mainly found in Atlantic.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jon C. Beverly/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is halibut edible?

Halibut can be eaten and is considered to be a great fish. The flesh of the halibut is white, flaky and has a mild, sweet flavor. Generally, halibut is relatively sought after and is a prized fish in many settings.

What was the largest halibut ever caught?

The largest halibut ever caught on record is a Pacific halibut caught by Jack Tragis off Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in June 1996. According to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), this fish weighed in at a staggering 459 pounds, making it the all-tackle world record holder for this species. This is roughly equivalent to the weight of a full-grown adult Grizzly bear or two adult humans!

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