Updated on August 6, 2022
Recording America’s biggest fish is easier said than done. After all, most truly enormous fish are released before someone can grab a scale, or they dry out on the way. Also, plenty of people say they’ve hooked a monster back in their glory days, but whose to say what’s true?
Just recently, in April of 2021, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife crew on the Detroit River pulled up a 240 pound sturgeon, measuring 6’10 long and almost 4 feet in girth. The three scientists had 5 lines in the water near Grosse Isle when they felt a slight tug. After pulling the monster to the surface, it took about 10 minutes to net and land the behemoth. They estimate that the sturgeon was born in the Detroit River sometime in the 1920’s, though it could be even older. Back then there were over a million sturgeon in the Great Lakes region, though over fishing and pollution has reduced the population to about 30,000 in that area.
Catfish grow astronomically large, and are found in almost every freshwater lake in America. The largest was a Blue Catfish caught in Kerr Lake, Virginia. The 143 pound monster was hauled in by local angler Richard Nicholas Anderson in 2011. It was 4.75 feed long, and heavy enough that it took Anderson 45 minutes to land. He was using a heavy tackle with chicken as bait, and after a lengthy battle with the cat he finally pulled it ashore.
Chinook Salmon in Alaska are a target species for many anglers, and the subject of many fishing trips. 68 year old auto dealer Les Anderson was fishing the Kenai River in May 1985 when he hooked onto the fight of his life. The King Salmon nearly overpowered Anderson’s small boat, but he masterfully guided it to the shore and landed the fish. He rushed the fish to a scale in town before it dried out, where locals were shocked to see it weighed in at 97 pounds. Anderson’s rod and reel salmon record is a world record that still stands today.
Almost 100 years ago, George Perry hooked an astonishing Largemouth Bass in Lake Montgomery, Georgia. The fish was 22 pounds and 4 ounces, good enough for a world record which still stands today. Many people were skeptical of the record because no pictures were found, until 2006 when Perry’s descendants produced the picture below. According to legend, Perry fed his family of 6 for two days using the single fish alone. Perry was not a competitive sport angler, rather just a man enjoying time on the water trying to feed his family. As luck would have it, that day in 1932 was good enough to put him in the history books.
The world Muskie record is a bit sketchy, seeing as several claims have been proven falsified. According to the International Game Fishing Association the record is held by Cal Johnson, who caught a muskie in Lake Court Oreilles weighing 67.8 pounds. The fish was caught in July of 1949, just outside of Hayward, Wisconsin. The skin mount still hangs at Moccassin Bar in Hayward, which you can visit to see the incredible catch for yourself.