saltwater fish
Getty: Kelly Dalling

Big Saltwater Fish That Belong on Every Angler's Bucket List

When it comes to sport fishing, these saltwater fish take the spotlight on the biggest stage.

Earth's vast oceans contain countless game fish species. These 1o saltwater game fish are among the most prized catches for offshore anglers. The fish on this list are dogged fighters that make for a thrilling angling experience you simply can't get from freshwater fisheries.

But it's not just the thrill of catching these fish that make them so coveted. Many of them have tasty and valuable meat.

Whether it's for their culinary value or the challenge of catching them, these are some of the most sought-after big fish out there in deep water.

Let's start with a couple species that find a place on every angler's bucket list.

Blue Marlin

Blue marlin have long been the favorite saltwater game fish for offshore anglers. Marlin represent the pinnacle of an offshore catch: powerful, cunning, fast, and big.

North American sport fishermen discovered them in the 1920s around the Bahamas. Since then, sport marlin fishing has become a multi-million-dollar industry. Marlin are prized fish among commercial anglers, too—their meat is often sold for sushimi.



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Sailfish are powerful apex predators that are considered to be one of the fastest fish in the sea.

Also a member of the billfish family, their incredible swimming speed can reach up to 68 mph. Sailfish are also known for their jumping power, which makes them a thrilling fish to catch. Their range extends throughout both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Bluefin Tuna

Looking for a battle of strength and will? Try fishing for bluefin tuna.

These monster fish are some of the most difficult bony fish to catch in the world. Bluefin have incredible stamina and often reach monster sizes—the world record for bluefin tuna was 1,496 pounds. Bluefin are considered apex predators, but their numbers are beginning to dwindle from commercial fishing. Their tasty meat is very valuable to the international fish trade, especially in Japanese fish markets.

Yellowfin Tuna

yellowfin tuna

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Yellowfin have a reputation for being one of the fastest and strongest fish in the sea. They're considered one of the largest tuna species, but not quite as large as their bluefin cousins. U.S. anglers typically catch yellowfin along the eastern seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific near San Diego. Yellowfin are not only considered valuable catches for commercial sport fishermen, but also for those looking to take their business to the fish market.


Roosterfish are powerful and fast game fish that live in the warm coastal regions of the Eastern Pacific. Their most distinctive feature is their comb-like dorsal fin. While they aren't good to eat, anglers love to catch them because of their stubborn power, speed and ability to jump high when hooked. Roosterfish can weigh more than 110 pounds. The largest one ever caught was 114 pounds.


Dorado, also known as mahi mahi or dolphin fish, are prized for their brilliant colors, incredible speed, and ability to jump high when hooked. They are also fairly accessible to most sport fishermen. Dorado are found throughout the world and can be caught by sight-casting using light or medium tackle.

Dorardo is also among the tastiest fish in the sea, as its meat bursts with flavor. Dorado is usually marketed as mahi mahi and is commonly used in fish taco recipes.



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Fast and large, this large chrome-plated hot rod fish is a favorite of offshore anglers. Tarpon range in size from 4-8 feet in length and weigh around 60-280.

They are bony fish that are not good to eat, but they are fun as all heck to fish for, especially because they jump high when hooked. Tarpon are found throughout the Atlantic, but have have recently migrated into the Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal.

Additionally, tarpon offer fly fishermen a one-of-a-kind saltwater fishing experience, which is why you'll see anglers using heavy fly tackle with the hopes of hooking into the fight of a lifetime. Amberjack and redfish (red drum) also fall under the umbrella of saltwater species popular among inshore fly fishermen.

Giant Trevally

The ancient Hawaiians likened the Giant Trevally to a warrior of the sea. If you've ever fished for one, you'll understand why. They are large, fast and powerful game fish that put up a strong fight once hooked.

Today, they are one of the most sought-after game fish in the Indo-Pacific region, largely because of just how challenging it is to get one in the boat. Anglers can catch them with a wide variety of baits and lures, too.


Bonefish are surprisingly fast and strong for their size. These quick fish turn into super-charged torpedos when hooked.

They are common in the flats of coastal Caribbean regions like the Florida Keys, which is one of the best bonefish destinations in the world. Each year, thousands of anglers fish for bonefish in the flats of Key Biscayne National Park.



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Wahoo are also considered to be one of the faster fish in the sea. Their narrow, torpedo-shaped bodies allow them to swim at incredible speeds. Some fishermen have reportedly caught wahoo trolling at speeds of 15 knots.

They are also prized for their tasty white flesh. Their meat tastes similar to mackerel.

Honorable Mentions

Most of the large fish above offer striking appearances or the ability to test your fortitude as an angler. And, while many of them do offer a nice meal when you're all done, we'd be remiss if we didn't include some of the ocean's most delicious fish.

If you're one who finds satisfaction in catching fish to make a delicious entree above everything else, snapper, flounder, sea bass, and grouper are a must-add for any bucket list.

For those wanting a different sport fishing experience along different coastlines of the country, mid-Atlantic trips for cobia, black drum, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and boatloads of bluefish can be just as fun as chasing Crevalle Jack down in Florida.