With the vast majority of water on the Earth’s surface being salt water and over 20,000 species of game fish in those oceans, the opportunities for catching saltwater fish seems endless. Whether your fishing enthusiasm is driven by your culinary tastes or simply for the challenge, these top 15 saltwater game fish are a must-catch for offshore anglers.
Let the Top 15 Saltwater GameFish Count Down Begin!
15th Saltwater Fish: The Giant Trevally
This extra-large fish, also known as GT, are one of the toughest fish on rod and reel. Many anglers are drawn to this challenge and see why the ancient Hawaiians likened this gamefish to a warrior of the sea. Large, fast, powerful and willing to put up a fight, the Giant Trevally is a highly sought after gamefish.
14th Saltwater GameFish: The King Threadfin
The sought-after threadfin is located in northern Australia and New Guinea. This particular gamefish can be found in muddy intertidal waters and is a strong, thrashing fish to try to real in once hooked. The threadfin is a popular commercially caught fish, particularly with fishermen in Australia.
13th Salt water Fish: The Chinook Salmon
This fish remains one of the world’s most valuable species for both commercial and recreational purposes. This variety of salmon is the largest of the salmon species and can be found from central California to northern Alaska. Also called the King Salmon this large fish is sought after by anglers for the thrill of the catch and for culinary reasons.
12th Salt water Game Fish: The Roosterfish
Roosterfish can be found in the warm coastal regions of the Eastern Pacific. While they aren’t a tasty fish, they are still sought after by anglers because of the thrill of the chase with the speed and jumping ability of this gamefish. Weighing in at around 100 pounds Roosterfish are both fast and powerful.
11th Most Popular GameFish: The Permit
This hard-to-catch gamefish is a favorite of fly-fisherman. The permit is a very tall, flat fish, distinctive in it’s elongated dorsal fins and deeply forked tail. The popularity of this fish lies in the hunt– it’s challenging to fool, especially with artificial lures.
10th Top Saltwater GameFish: The Yellowfin Tuna
Yellowfin Tuna remain popular around the world with sport fisherman. Their reputation for strength and speed, as well as being one of the largest tuna species, makes them a valuable catch for commercial fisherman. This tuna is a medium sized game fish, shaped like a torpedo with, you guessed it, easily recognizable yellow fins.
9th Most Sought-After Game Fish: The Atlantic Snook
This catch can only be found in a small section of the Atlantic, in the coastal waters from southern Florida and Texas into Central America. The Atlantic snook can be found in lagoons and inlets and mangrove estuaries, sometimes even in freshwater. The aggressive fish puts up quite a fight when hooked and can get caught up in the tight areas of the mangroves, posing extra challenges for the experienced angler.
8th Top Salt Water Fish: The Bluefin Tuna
The bluefin tuna is highly sought after by commercial fishers with one large gamefish bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Japanese market. These monster-sized fish are difficult to catch due to their stamina and size — the world record for a bluefin tuna was 1,496 pounds. These warm-blooded fish are able to thrive in cold water and can be found near Canada during the summertime.
7th Saltwater GameFish: The Sailfish
Another apex predator that is highly sought after by anglers, the sailfish are one of the fastest fish in the sea. They can be found throughout both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and are known for their jumping power, making them an exciting catch. They are blue to gray in color with a white underbelly and get their name from their dorsal fin that stretches nearly the entire length of their body.
6th Top Salt water Fish to Catch: The Swordfish
With their long bill that is used to attack other fish or food, the aptly named swordfish is known for their power and endurance on rod and reel.
Swordfish are also one of the fastest fish in the ocean, swimming at around 50 mph. These popular fish are found in tropical and temperate parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, oftentimes near the surface.
5th Most Popular Saltwater Fish to Hunt: The Mahimahi
Mahimahi’s name in Hawaiian means “strong, strong,” in other words, extra strong! This popular offshore game fish is determined and stubborn to catch. With colorful hues of blues, greens and yellows, the fish is a beautiful catch and can be seen showing off those colors in aerobatic flights when hooked. Mahi grow up to 18 inches in a year and are a popular culinary fish.
4th Top Ocean, Saltwater Fish: The Mako Shark
An apex predator, the mako shark is widely reputed to be the fastest shark. Not only is it fast, but it can turn on a dime and jump — a feat that has been witnessed by many an angler when it jumps 20 feet or more into the air when hooked, even doing mid-air somersaults. The mako can be found in all tropical and temperate oceans and can weigh over 1,000 pounds.
3rd Most Popular Ocean Fish to Catch: The Black Marlin
Black marlins can be found in the Pacific and Indian oceans near shallow banks and near-coastal waters. Like it’s relative, the blue marlin, black marlins are a top predator and a top catch for anglers. With a maximum length of 15 feet and a weight of over 1,500 pounds, it is one of the largest bony fish out there. The black marlin makes the list as the fastest fish in the world due to the fact it can swim up to 80 mph. That size and speed make it a sought after fish by top anglers.
2nd Most Challenging Saltwater Fish to Hunt: The Tarpon
This one-of-a-kind game fish can be found on both sides of the Atlantic and is extremely challenging to catch. The reflective nature of the scales has the fish dubbed “the silver king,” and king it is, weighing up to 280 pounds and living for more than 50 years. The tarpon is an amazing jumper and fighter and is a favorite of offshore anglers. While not a tasty catch, they are fun chase, especially when they jump high when hooked.
The #1 Most Popular Saltwater Game Fish Is… The Blue Marlin
Blue marlins are a challenge sought after by many anglers. The gamefish can grow to be 14 feet long and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds, bringing a fair share of thrill and accomplishment to any offshore fisherman who can lure in one of these saltwater giants. The marlin is powerful, fast and big and has spurred a multi-million dollar industry, attracting anglers from around the world.