July 23, 2024

Hardcore Game Fishing

Game Fishing News

New York State Record Fish Guide

Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Empire State isn’t just a cultural hub, it also boasts incredible angling opportunities. And once you see the list of incredible New York fish records, you’ll be left in no doubt that you should visit to get in on the action!

From the calm waters of the Finger Lakes to the lively rivers and ponds of NYC, and all the way out to the ocean, each new cast could be the one that sets a new standard in the angling books. With over forty islands and numerous diverse bodies of water, the fishing prospects here are as impressive as the Big Apple’s skyline!

Let’s explore and celebrate New York’s rich fishing heritage together. We’ll dive into all the details of the state’s most impressive catches. By the time you’re done reading, we’re sure you’ll be impressed and excited in equal measure. Here we go!

Biggest Fish Caught in New York by Species

There’s no end to the fish you can catch in the Empire State. But that should come as no surprise, as the waters here are so diverse. Depending on where you’re fishing, you could land Black Seabass, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, Flounder, Largemouth Bass, Mahi Mahi, Striped Bass (Rockfish), Sharks, Tautog, Walleye, and much more.

To explore the records for each of these celebrated catches, read on or click the links below. We’ve organized them alphabetically to give you a breakdown of the most impressive angling achievements across the state!

Black Seabass

  • New York state record: 9 lbs in the Atlantic Ocean in 1993
Three anglers standing aboard a fishing charter in New York on a sunny day and showing off their haul of Black Seabass and other fish
Photo courtesy of Crunch Time Sport Fishing

Sal Vicari from the Bronx reeled in the New York state record Black Seabass fish on October 10, 1993. This record catch weighed 9 pounds and was landed in the Atlantic Ocean. Black Seabass are well renowned for their voracious appetite and robust fighting skills here, but landing a fish this big is something rare!

Vicari’s record-setting Seabass stands out, as average catches of Seabass in NY usually weigh between 1 and 3 pounds. This stark difference hints at the potential lurking beneath the surface of New York’s coastal regions. Maybe it’s time to break the current record already?!

Saltwater enthusiasts typically target Seabass by bottom fishing, as these fish thrive around structure such as rocky reefs and submerged wrecks. Successful baiting strategies often include using crab, squid, or clam, which are Black Sebass favorites. You can also opt for jigs to imitate these natural baits.

Bluefin Tuna

  • New York state record: 1,071 lbs in the Atlantic Ocean in 1977
Three men and one child pose on a dock in New York, as the man in the middle struggles to hold his near record Bluefin Tuna catch after a successful fishing trip
Photo courtesy of Shut Up & Fish LI

Larry Thompson set a historic benchmark for this famed species in 1977. His catch of a 1,071 lb Bluefin Tuna off Montauk was truly special, Not only is this still the NY state record fish, it was the largest ever Bluefin caught in US waters at the time! This feat was even covered in the New York Times, which misreported the weight, adding another twist to the story.

Bluefin Tuna are renowned for their delicious meat, of course, but also for their sheer size and strength. It’s no wonder that they’re among the most desired trophies in the sportfishing world! You’ll need robust tackle to pursue these giants, as you try trolling with large lures while chumming the waters to coax them close. Indeed, the hunt and battle is as interesting as the fish themselves.

It’s no surprise that Thompson’s record stands unchallenged, as a typical Bluefin catch in New York will be significantly smaller. That being said, they’ll never be a pushover, regularly weighing several hundred pounds. Each fishing season rekindles local and visiting anglers’ ambition to land a brute. Why not dream big in the hope of breaking Larry Thompson’s record?


  • New York state record: 7 lbs, 3.5 oz in the Atlantic Ocean in 1997
An angler in a baseball cap, sunglasses, and face bluff standing close to the camera and holding a large Flounder in each hand while standing aboard a fishing charter
Photo courtesy of Capitol Fleet Wreck Fishing

Jack Cohen of Staten Island set the New York state record for Winter Flounder with a fish weighing 7 pounds, 3.5 ounces on June 29, 1997. His remarkable catch has remained unmatched in New York’s fishing records for almost three decades.

Winter Flounder are common targets in the cold waters of the Atlantic, particularly around coastal areas where they’re prized for their delicate taste. Typically, these Flounder are much smaller, with average catches usually weighing under a couple of pounds. So this makes Cohen’s catch particularly impressive!

If you want to get in on the Winter Flounder action, try bottom fishing with worms or clams on small hooks. Given their preference for sandy or muddy bottoms, successful anglers work these areas during the colder months, when this particular Flounder species moves inshore to spawn.

Largemouth Bass

  • New York state record: 11 lbs, 4 oz on Buckhorn Lake in 1987
A happy fishing charter captain wearing a t-shirt that says "New York" on it, holding a Largemouth Bass in each hand after returning to the dock
Photo courtesy of Montgomery Fishing Charters

John L. Higbie from Unadilla set the New York state record for Largemouth Bass at Buckhorn Lake on September 11, 1987. The record catch weighed a whopping 11 pounds, 4 ounces and came just a month after John had landed an 8-pounder, which he vowed to surpass. Higbie used a homemade spinnerbait in Otsego County when he hooked the record-setting Bass, as confirmed by the NYDEC. That shows that you can really be in control of your own destiny when fishing in the Empire State!

Largemouth Bass are a fish that needs no introduction. Beloved all across the country for their ability to grow to impressive sizes and spirited fights, you’ll find them across New York’s numerous freshwater lakes.

Following Higbie’s success, it’ll be no surprise to hear that spinnerbaits are the favorite weapons in each Largemouth angler’s arsenal. While average Largemouth Bass in New York range from 2 to 5 pounds, the state’s waters hold the potential for much larger catches. We think it’s high time that someone got out there and broke Higbie’s record!

Mahi Mahi

  • New York state record: 56 lbs, 50 oz in 2015
A man in a baseball cap standing aboard a fishing charter in the Atlantic Ocean out of New York holding a Mahi Mahi
Photo courtesy of Encore Water Ways Inc

Joe Mole of Massapequa Park set the New York state record for Mahi Mahi with a remarkable catch weighing 56 pounds and 50 ounces on July 26, 2015. Mole’s record-setting day began with the typical excitement of offshore fishing. However, it ended in an extraordinary encounter that he couldn’t have imagined even in his wildest dreams.

Any catch over 50 pounds is exceptional, as Mahi Mahi typically range from 10 to 30 pounds in New York’s waters. These fish are not only sought after for the challenge they present but also for their delicious, firm white meat. Each summer, Mahi draw anglers to the state hoping to match or exceed Joe’s record – or to simply find one of these gorgeous fish at the end of their line.

These fish prefer offshore waters, where they often hang out around floating objects or sizable weedlines. This environment provides both shelter and a hunting ground for these fast swimmers. Try a mix of trolling and bait fishing techniques to attract them. Brightly colored lures or live baits such as squid or smaller fish are effective in mimicking Mahi’s natural prey. Opt for them and, who knows, maybe you’ll get your hands on the next wall-hanger!

Striped Bass (Rockfish)

  • New York state record: 76 lbs in the Great Eastern in 1981
A man in a baseball cap and sunglasses sitting on a fishing charter in New York and holding a large Striped Bass that may challenge the state record
Photo courtesy of Forever Two Worlds

Bob Rocchetta‘s fishing story is the stuff of legends. In July 1981, on the waters east of Montauk Point, he hooked a marine Striped Bass weighing a massive 76 pounds. This wasn’t just any catch, though. It set the All-Tackle World Record and still stands as the New York state record Rockfish.

The Great Eastern is an area renowned for its Striped Bass population, attracting anglers from all over the country and even beyond. And Rocchetta didn’t need anything special to land this beast. He headed out before dawn armed with some live eel, and got more than his just rewards. The fight with the Rockfish was monumental, a true mix of the skill and patience required to handle such a fish on a rod and reel.

Due to regulations focusing on the conservation and population status of Striped Bass, the record has been retired, with an emphasis on catch and release today. Anglers continue to be inspired by Rocchetta’s historic achievement, though. We suggest you come to pursue the thrill of the catch while respecting the necessity to preserve the fish for future generations.

Thresher Shark

  • New York state record: 707 lbs in 2023
Three men in full fishing gear posing on a dock in New York next to a huge Thresher Shark that's hanging from above - almost big enough to be the NY state record
Photo courtesy of Forever Two Worlds

In June 2023, William Dittenhoefer of Baldwin, NY, set a stunning new record for Thresher Shark in New York State. His 707 lb monster during the annual Hooks for Heroes Shark Tournament impressed everyone in attendance. This fishing event out of Scotty’s Marina in Point Lookout, is aimed at supporting veterans but it was Dittenhoefer who made the headlines with his record-breaking catch in 2023.

The historic catch happened on board the Gina Ann, a 38′ Downeaster, captained by Michael Spagnuolo. As they sailed from Jones Inlet, the crew was optimistic but unaware of what the day ahead had in store. The fight with the giant Thresher Shark lasted for hours, challenging the crew’s skill, strength, and stamina. It finally culminated in a spectacular catch that tipped the scales far beyond the previous state record.

Thresher Sharks, like the record-setting giant caught by Dittenhoefer, are a rare and exciting catch for any angler. Generally, Threshers caught off New York’s coast are significantly smaller, weighing between 200 and 400 pounds. Coming into contact with an apex predator of that size is awe-inspiring, so we can only imagine how the Gina Ann crew felt!


New York state record: 22 lbs, 53 oz by Bill Taylor in Jones Inlet in 2014

Two men standing either side of a woman aboard a fishing charter, as all three hold up two Tautog each, while smiling on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Port Of Call Charters

Billy Taylor made headlines with his catch of a 22.53 lb Tautog on November 14, 2014. Fishing out of Jones Inlet, Taylor used green crab as bait, fishing in 65 feet of water. His achievement wasn’t just luck, though. He has a history of catching solid Blackfish (Tautog’s other name), having previously landed several in the “teen-sized” range, including a 14.5-pounder earlier the same day he caught the record!

Tautog are known for their strength and wariness, making them challenging to catch. Not only that but the average ‘Tog caught in New York waters usually weighs between 3 and 5 pounds! That means that Taylor’s catch was at least four times heavier than the usual fish! It may take years for another lucky angler to come along…

But that shouldn’t stop you from trying! Try to emulate Taylor by pairing your gear up with some crabs for the best chance of landing a monster. Head to rocky or structured seabeds where these fish are known to feed, and who knows what could happen?!


New York state record: 18 lbs, 2 oz in the St. Lawrence River in 2018

Two middle-aged anglers standing on a dock after a fishing trip and holding a Walleye each on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of End Of The Line Sportfishing

Brian Hartman‘s New York record fish of an 18 lb, 2 oz Walleye caught on May 5, 2018, on the St. Lawrence River is a story of precision and a bit of luck. Using a swimbait, Hartman thought he’d snagged a hefty fish. But it wasn’t until a friend urged him to use a certified scale that the true weight was revealed, surpassing his initial estimate and setting a new record.

With a fish this big coming from it, it’s pretty clear that the St. Lawrence River deserves its reputation as a Walleye hotspot. It offers anglers excellent opportunities, especially during the colder spring months which see pre-spawn giants on the hunt for food, just like Hartman’s catch. 2018’s particular season saw an unusual cold snap, leading to heavier, pre-spawn Walleyes in the river for longer.

Anglers like Hartman and his witness, Dick, emphasize not only the thrill of the catch when it comes to Walleye, but also the sport’s nuances. From the right timing and bait to the importance of verifying records, we suggest you try and follow the same principles. Stories like these can inspire both seasoned and beginner anglers to pursue their own trophy catches, but always with a nod toward conservation and respect for the sport.

Yellowfin Tuna

New York state record: 248 lbs, 5 oz in 2002

A happy man kneeling on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean and showing off his catch of Yellowfin Tuna on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Crunch Time Sport Fishing

Bruce Weisinger‘s record-breaking 248.5 lb Yellowfin Tuna, caught on September 9, 2002, still stands as a monumental catch in New York’s fishing history. Amidst a thrilling day at sea, Bruce managed to hook this massive Tuna along with several others. His account of the Yellowfin taking the bait directly from his hand tells you all you need to know about the sheer excitement of deep-sea fishing in New York State.

Fishing in the area known as West Wall 150 provided the perfect setting for this record-breaking trip. The sea conditions that day, highlighted by a water temperature of 74.5ºF, created the ideal environment for Yellowfin Tuna and even a couple of Blue Marlin offshore.

Another fish known for their table fare qualities, Yellowfin Tuna are also renowned for their speed and strength. While the average sized catch is considerably less than Weisinger’s record, the possibility of hooking a giant attracts countless anglers to these waters each season. Who doesn’t hope to test their skills against one of the ocean’s most formidable – and delectable – opponents?

New York State Record Fish: An Overview

Here’s a concise overview of New York fish records in case you found it hard to navigate the technicalities. This table details each species, their record weights, and the locations where these remarkable catches were made.

Species Pounds Ounces Place Year
Black Seabass 9 0.0 Atlantic Ocean 1993
Bluefin Tuna 1,071 0.0 Atlantic Ocean 1977
Flounder (Winter) 7 3.5 Atlantic Ocean 1997
Largemouth Bass 11 4.0 Buckhorn Lake 1987
Striped Bass 76 0.0 Atlantic Ocean 1981
Thresher Shark 707 0.0 Atlantic Ocean 2023
Tautog 22 8.0 Jones Inlet 2014
Walleye 18 2.0 St. Lawrence River 2018
Yellowfin Tuna 248 5.0 West Wall 2002

New York State Record Fish: A Neverending Story

Two men aboard a fishing charter in Montauk, NY, holding a large Marlin they caught offshore on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Push The Limit Sportfishing

You’ve now seen the tip of New York fish records iceberg. But remember, this list is just the beginning. The thrill of fishing is that records are made to be broken, and each cast in New York’s waters could be the one that sets a new standard. We’re constantly on the lookout for record-breaking catches, and there’s always room for new legends to rise. With new record categories established, there’s a better chance than ever before your big catch will make history!

What did you think of our guide to New York’s state record fish? Which catch caught your eye the most? Got any New York fishing tales to share? We’d love to hear them! Click the comment button below and let us know your thoughts and stories!

Please note that all of the images used in the article are used to reflect the species caught and in no way claim to be of the record catch.

The post New York State Record Fish: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: New York State Record Fish: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/new-york-record-fish/
Published Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2024 11:39:44 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…

Share This