7 Biggest Fish in Florida: Get Ready to Be Speechless!

Biggest Fish in Florida

The Sunshine State is a veritable paradise for anglers and marine enthusiasts alike. With its expansive network of rivers, lakes, and a coastline that stretches over 1,350 miles, it’s a haven for a diverse range of fish species.

From the freshwater habitats of the Everglades to the deep blue waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida is a melting pot of marine and freshwater life.

In this article, we’ll explore the seven most impressive fish that have made Florida their home, exploring their unique characteristics, habitats, and the tales that surround them.

7. Atlantic Goliath Grouper

Goliath Groupers

This species, with its sheer size and presence, is a testament to the wonders of marine life in Florida.

Characteristics and Habitat

The Atlantic Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is truly a marine giant. With the capability to reach an astonishing 8 feet in length and tipping the scales at over 800 pounds, these creatures are a marvel of the ocean.

Primarily found in the warm, tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Florida’s coastal areas provide the perfect habitat, with its coral reefs and mangrove forests offering ample food and shelter.

Memorable Encounters

For anglers, encountering a Goliath Grouper is akin to finding the Holy Grail. Their extraordinary size, combined with their gentle nature, makes them a fantastic sight and a memorable catch. Many anglers recount tales of the sheer strength of these giants, making every encounter an unforgettable experience.

6. Tarpon


Beyond its impressive size, the Tarpon is celebrated for its acrobatic displays, making it a sought-after catch among anglers.


The Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) is a spectacle in its own right. Growing up to 8 feet long and weighing over 280 pounds, these fish are not just about size. They are renowned for their impressive leaps, often jumping out of the water, providing a visual treat.

Their silver scales glisten in the sunlight, earning them the nickname “Silver King.” Catching a Tarpon is a rite of passage for many anglers. It’s not just about reeling it in; it’s about the dance between angler and fish.

Their acrobatic displays, combined with their formidable strength, make them a challenging yet rewarding catch, often leading to tales of epic battles between man and fish.

5. The Enigmatic Sawfish


The Sawfish, with its distinctive saw-like snout, stands out as one of Florida’s most unique fish species.

Main Characteristics

This species is an enigma of the marine world. With an elongated snout lined with sharp teeth-like projections, it’s a fusion of awe and mystery. Sawfish can reach lengths of up to 18 feet, making them one of the ocean’s larger inhabitants.

However, their numbers have sadly been declining, primarily due to overfishing and habitat degradation. While their sightings are becoming increasingly rare, spotting a Sawfish is a moment of pure wonder.

For marine biologists and anglers alike, these creatures represent the mysteries of the deep, and every encounter is a reminder of the need for marine conservation.

4. Alligator Gar

With its prehistoric appearance, this species is a living testament to the evolutionary wonders of aquatic life in Florida.


The Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula) is like a creature from a bygone era. Found in Florida’s freshwater ecosystems, these fish can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh over 300 pounds. Their reptilian appearance, complete with a long snout and sharp teeth, is a throwback to ancient times.

Interestingly, they have a unique ability to breathe both in water and air, thanks to a specialized swim bladder. Their fearsome appearance might be intimidating, but for anglers and nature enthusiasts, an encounter with an Alligator Gar is a journey back in time.

Observing these creatures is like watching a living fossil, a reminder of the rich evolutionary history of our planet.

3. Largemouth Bass


A favorite among freshwater anglers, the Largemouth Bass is celebrated for its aggressive behavior and the challenge it presents.

Key Features

The Largemouth Bass, while not as large as some of its marine counterparts, holds a special place in the hearts of freshwater anglers. This spirited fish can grow up to 29.5 inches in length and weigh as much as 22 pounds. Found in freshwater lakes and rivers, they are known for their sudden bursts of speed and aggressive behavior, especially when threatened or cornered.

Memorable Encounters

For anglers, every Largemouth Bass caught is a story in the making. Their aggressive behavior, combined with their tendency to leap out of the water when hooked, makes every fishing trip an adventure. Tales of the one that got away are as common as tales of the biggest catch, making the Largemouth Bass a legend in freshwater fishing circles.

2. Amberjack


The Amberjack, known for its raw power and endurance, is a favorite among deep-sea anglers.

Characteristics and Habitat

The Amberjack is a testament to the strength and resilience of marine life. Growing over 200 lbs. in optimal conditions, these fish are powerhouses. They are typically found in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, often near underwater structures like reefs and shipwrecks, which provide ample food sources.

For deep-sea anglers, the Amberjack represents the ultimate challenge. Known for their relentless strength and stamina, reeling in an Amberjack is a test of skill, patience, and endurance. Many seasoned anglers recount tales of hours-long battles with these giants, making every catch a badge of honor.

1. Unveiling the Warsaw Grouper: A Record-Breaking Giant!

Warsaw Grouper

The Warsaw Grouper, with its record-breaking size, showcases the unparalleled fishing opportunities that this place offers.

What sets it apart?

In January 2020, a Warsaw Grouper weighing a staggering 350 pounds was caught in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. This species, while not as commonly known as some of its counterparts, is a deep-sea dweller and a testament to the hidden wonders of Florida’s waters.

Catching a Warsaw Grouper is a moment of pride for any angler. Beyond the sheer size, it’s the story behind the catch that matters. Such encounters, especially with record-breaking specimens, highlight the rich and diverse fishing experiences that Florida offers, making it a top destination for anglers worldwide.

True Giants!

Here’s a table of the 10 biggest trophy fish ever caught in Florida:

Rank Type of Water Type of Fish Weight in Pounds
1 Salt Water Tiger Shark 1,069.06
2 Salt Water Hammerhead Shark 1,063.75
3 Salt Water Blue Marlin 1,048.88
4 Salt Water Mako Shark 911.65
5 Salt Water Bluefin Tuna 826.50
6 Fresh Water Alligator Gar 123
7 Fresh Water Flathead Catfish 69.9
8 Fresh Water Blue Catfish 69.5
9 Fresh Water Channel Catfish 44.50
10 Fresh Water Striped Bass 42.24


Are there any restrictions on catching sawfish in Florida?

Yes, sawfish are a critically endangered species, and it is strictly prohibited to harm, catch, or possess them in these waters.

What is the best time of year to catch big fish in Florida?

Different species have different peak seasons, but generally, the warmer months, from spring to fall, offer better opportunities to catch large fish here.

Are there any large species that are dangerous to humans?

While some large species, such as bull sharks and alligator gar, have the potential to be dangerous to humans, they generally pose little threat as long as people exercise caution and respect for wildlife.

Can you find sailfish in these waters?

Yes, sailfish are common here, and they can grow up to 11 feet long and weigh around 200 pounds.

Are there any prehistoric species still found in Florida?

Yes, the sturgeon is a prehistoric fish species that can still be found in Florida’s rivers, and some individuals can grow to over 8 feet in length.

The Bottom Line

Florida’s waters, teeming with biodiversity, promise unparalleled experiences for fishing enthusiasts. From freshwater lakes to the vast expanse of the ocean, the state is home to some of the world’s most impressive fish species. Each fish, with its unique characteristics, behaviors, and stories, adds to the rich tapestry of Florida’s

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