facebook pixel

We started Captain Experiences to make it easy to book fishing and hunting guides around the world. With over 1,500 Damn Good Guides, our platform makes finding and booking a trip seamless. Head here to check out our trips.

Fishermen love to daydream about catching the big one someday. Part of the joy of any fishing adventure is the anticipation of getting out on the water and that chance of catching the fish of a lifetime. If you are serious about your fishing, then you might have created a written bucket list, or at least a list somewhere in the back of your mind, of all the fish that you would love to catch in the coming years. Which fish do you prize above all others?Let’s look at a few of the common bucket list fish that many of us dream of catching. There are certainly many amazing fish to be caught across this great planet of ours. To help narrow the selection, this bucket list will focus mainly on game species found in the seas, lakes and rivers across North America.


Marlin are a classic big game fish, and it is one fish that many people are sure to have at the top of their bucket list. Marlin are the giant billfish pursued by Ernest Hemingway and the subject of many books and magazine covers. Blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin and white marlin are all highly prized offshore big game species. Blue marlin are the large billfish regularly caught in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, so this is likely the species that most people envision if they have never caught a marlin in the past. In my opinion, any species of marlin will do if you haven’t yet had the fortune to land one of these great fish. After you catch your first marlin, then you can start adding the other species of marlin to your bucket list.

captain jim marlin

Captain Jim put this family on a monster-sized Marlin in Cabo


Another classic billfish, the sailfish is certainly worthy of your fishing bucket list. For many anglers, the sailfish is probably the first billfish that you will encounter because they are the most commonly caught billfish species in many popular deep-sea fishing and vacationing destinations such as Mexico and Central America. We see sailfish replicas mounted at seafood restaurants around the nation because these fish are large and have that spectacular blue sail that runs down the length of their backs. Who wouldn’t want to catch a sailfish?


Captain Jayme pulled this spectacular Sailfish off the coast of Key Largo

Bluefin Tuna

If you have seen the TV Show Wicked Tuna, then you have probably dreamed of catching a monster bluefin tuna. Battling a 1,000-pound behemoth will wear out just about anyone. Tuna is in high demand, and the prized bluefin tuna could demand a retail price of over $30 per pound. That is one expensive fish if you ever manage to land one. Bluefin aren’t caught every day, and there are only a few locations where they are found. The limited availability of the giant bluefins only adds to the allure of pursuing this species.

captain nick bluefin

Captain Nick helps you land massive Bluefin in San Diego

King Salmon

King, the name says it all. From the name alone, you know that this has to be a large and special fish. There are five types of salmon that people regularly catch in Alaska, and King Salmon is almost universally considered to be the biggest and best salmon around. King Salmon are also getting harder to find, and the season to catch this prized salmon is closely monitored and adjusted each year. Depending on where you fish for King Salmon, you might even get to encounter wild bears searching the same river that you are fishing while the bears are in pursuit of their fish dinner.


Halibut are another fish that qualify as a once in a lifetime catch for many anglers. Halibut can be well over 100 pounds, and you need to travel to a far-off destination such as Alaska to catch this big, brown oversized flounder-like creature. It seems fair to say that halibut are not the most attractive of fish, and I doubt that you will see too many people hanging a prized halibut mount on their living room wall. But Halibut are delicious, and the adventurous locations in which they are caught make halibut worthy of a fishing bucket list.


Known as the Silver King, tarpon are another unique species that many anglers put on their bucket list. Tarpon regularly weigh 70 pounds and more. Tarpon have a different look about them than most fish. With large silver scales that measure a couple of inches, tarpon seem to be wearing armor. Even the tarpon’s mouth is hard, and many tarpon make spectacular leaps through the air in their all too often successful attempts to shake the hook out. Florida is the most reliable destination for tarpon in the US, but there are several other fantastic fishing locations with tarpon as well.

tarpon leaps

Tarpon will go to great lengths to avoid capture


Some anglers are just obsessed with Wahoo. This exact reason that a few fishermen go a little crazy when they have the opportunity to catch a wahoo is unclear. Wahoo are known for being extremely fast, and these fish can get quite large as well. Wahoo live far from the shore, so just getting out to the deep water that holds wahoo can be an adventure. They are also one of the best tasting offshore fish available. Perhaps the main reason most people have wahoo on their bucket list is the really cool name.

A Trophy-Sized “_______”

There are a whole other group of fish where size matters. Just adding any size fish to your bucket list is not enough for many species, but catching a giant fish of that species would be the type of fish that you dream of catching. Largemouth bass, speckled trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, [smallmouth bass] and many more fish that have a “trophy” size could all be on your bucket list if you catch a lunker. As an avid Texas bay fisherman, a 30-inch speckled trout has been on my bucket list for far too long.

And Many More

There are many more species that might be on your bucket list depending on where you live and where you travel. Snook, redfish, steelhead, mahi mahi, sharks, muskie, and many others could all qualify as bucket list fish. When you start looking outside of local waters, the bucket list possibilities can quickly grow.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to creating your own personal fishing bucket list. The people of Captain Experiences have our own bucket list fish too, and we are continuing to grow our available fishing offerings so that we can help everyone check a few fish off their bucket lists in the years to come. Certainly, we left off many sought-after fish, and we would love to hear your comments regarding what fish you have on your personal bucket list.