IGFA Celebrates 85 Years: Fishing’s World Record Keepers - The Fisherman

IGFA Celebrates 85 Years: Fishing’s World Record Keepers

Maureen Klause landed this 6-pound, 4-ounce sheepshead on August 11, 2023 behind Stone Harbor, NJ while fishing with Capt. Dan Schafer of Insomniac Guide Service, earning her a new IGFA Women’s 3-kg (6-pound) Line Class World Record for the species.

So, exactly how does one go about entering a world record catch?

This year the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) celebrates its 85th anniversary, marking nearly a century of work the organization has performed to ensure the future of sport fishing. In this piece from the IGFA, we dive into the history of the organization’s roots, and how the IGFA is more relevant now than ever to anglers looking to chase big fish and refine their craft.

Founded in 1939, the IGFA was originally created to standardize angling rules and form a uniform body for record keeping. In short, the foundation of the IGFA was rooted in world records and angling rules.  And while the organization’s programs have expanded greatly over the past 85 years to include groundbreaking work in the fields of conservation and youth angler education, the organization still maintains its role as the official record keeper of our sport.

While fly-fishing on Long Island, NY in May of 2023, Jackson Cantelmo landed this 6-pound, 4-ounce tautog to set the IGFA Men’s 6-kg (12-pound) Tippet Class World Record for blackfish.

World Records

So you’ve caught a potential IGFA World Record fish, now what?

To submit an IGFA World Record the angler must complete an IGFA World Record Application which can be found online in the World Records section of IGFA.org.  Along with a completed application the angler must submit 5 meters (16.5 feet) of main line still attached to the double line and/or leader (if used). Records caught on fly tackle must include the entire leader still attached to the fly.  The IGFA also requires a clear photo of the angler with the fish, as well as photos of the rod and reel used, and the scale on which the fish was weighed.

To qualify for an IGFA World Record the fish will need to be weighed on a scale that has been certified within a year of the date of catch. If the scale is not certified at the time of the catch, it can be sent in with the application for certification. While the premise of submitting an IGFA World Record application may seem like a daunting task, if you are able to follow these steps the process will become second nature. If you are ever in need of assistance, feel free to reach out to the IGFA at any time.

When most anglers think of IGFA World Records, it’s the seemingly “insurmountable” catches such as Greg Meyerson’s 81-pound, 14-ounce behemoth striped bass and Ken Fraser’s massive 1,496-pound bluefin tuna that oftentimes come to mind, as they have made the rounds in publications and on social media for years. However, just because some records are seemingly “unbreakable” it doesn’t mean there are no longer record opportunities available for the everyday angler. To get a better understanding of what records currently are available at the IGFA let’s take a broader look at the program and what’s available to anglers.

All-Tackle World Records – IGFA All-Tackle World Records are kept for the heaviest fish of a species caught by an angler in any line class up to 60 kilograms (130 pounds). IGFA All- Tackle World Record claims are considered for all species of fish caught, according to the IGFA International Angling Rules, provided the fish weighs at least one pound and is in the top 50% of the maximum reported weight or length of the species. For example, if a species is reported to grow to 10 pounds, a record submittal for that fish must weigh at least 5 pounds to qualify.

Line Class World Records – IGFA Line Class World Records are kept for each eligible species according to the breaking strength of the first 5 meters (16.5 feet) of line directly preceding the double line, leader, or hook. Line Class records are held for 190 gamefish species across fresh and saltwater.

Tippet Class World Records – Tippet Class world records are fly fishing records kept for the eligible species according to the breaking strength of the class tippet. Tippet Class records are held for 190 gamefish species across fresh and saltwater.

Junior and Smallfry World Records – Junior and Smallfry World Records are kept for the heaviest fish of each eligible species in any Line Class up to 60 kilograms (130 pounds). Junior records are kept for both male and female anglers ages 11-16 and Smallfry records are kept for both male and female anglers aged 10 and under. All species that are recognized for Line Class records and Tippet Class records are also recognized for Junior records.

Jonathan Cavaliere set the IGFA All-Tackle World Record for northern puffer last September while fishing in Barnegat Bay at the Jersey Shore. At 1-pound on the nose, is that blowfish record in your wheelhouse for ’24?

All-Tackle Length World Records – IGFA All-Tackle Length World Records is a length-based record program and is open under three distinct categories.

  • All-Tackle Length (Conventional) – All-Tackle Length World Records are kept for the longest fish of each eligible species caught according to the IGFA International Angling Rules in any Line Class up to 60 kilograms (130 pounds) and released alive.
  • All-Tackle Length (Fly) – All-Tackle Length World Records (fly) are kept for the longest fish of each eligible species caught according to the IGFA International Flyfishing Rules on any Tippet Class up to and including 10 kilograms (20 pounds) and released alive. Fish that are caught on flyfishing tackle on a Tippet Class exceeding 10 kilograms (20 pounds) will be considered for the All-Tackle Length (conventional) category.
  • All-Tackle Length (Junior) – All-Tackle Length World Records (Junior) are kept for the longest fish of each eligible species caught according to the IGFA International Angling Rules in any Line Class up to 60 kilograms (130 pounds) and released alive. All-Tackle Length Junior records are kept for all anglers aged 16 and under.
The current IGFA All-Tackle Length World Records as of April 17, 2024. For up-to-date records refer to the IGFA Records Database at IGFA.org.

IGFA All-Tackle Length World Record fish must be measured using the official IGFA measuring device on a flat surface. With the fish lying on top of the measuring device, measurements must be taken from the most forward part of the fish’s snout to the rear center edge of the tail. IGFA Measuring Devices can be purchased through the IGFA Store at shopigfa.com

The IGFA introduced the All-Tackle Length record category in 2011 as an effort to promote catch and release. Due to the resounding success of the program after the initial release, the IGFA has since expanded this record program with the addition of a fly-fishing category in 2021 and a junior category in 2023. While these expansions have garnered a large amount of participation for the record category, there are still several record opportunities available to anglers in the northeast region for a litany of popular gamefish.

While there are steps to submitting your IGFA World Record, the process has been designed and refined over the years to make it easy for the angler, and effective for IGFA staff to ensure the validity of each claim.

Upcoming Reel Into Fishing Programs in New Jersey this summer include one in Ocean County from August 13-15, the second one in Burlington County from August 20-22.

More Than World Records

As the sport of fishing continues to expand and adapt, it is more important now than ever to focus efforts on conservation and education for future generations of anglers. Originally formed as a uniformed body for record keeping 85 years ago, the IGFA has expanded to focus on these key topics while maintaining its place as the world’s keeper of records. Participation, whether it be in the form of a record submission, or participation in an education event, helps the IGFA’s effort to ensure the future of sport fishing.  A list of the species eligible for IGFA consideration (Game Fish Database) and more info about the organization can be found at IGFA.org.  You can also call 954-927-2628 or email [email protected].

While world records and angling rules were the original purpose for forming the IGFA, the organization has expanded significantly in the fields of gamefish conservation and research, and most recently in youth angler education.   The IGFA’s education programs are based on the belief that the sport of angling is an important recreational, economic, and social activity in which the public must be educated to pursue in a manner that aligns with the IGFA’s mission.

Currently, the IGFA also provides a growing selection of educational opportunities through a multi-faceted approach of online and in-person programs promoting responsible, ethical angling. Following the launch of new programs in 2019 like Passports to Fishing, Learn-to-Fish Clinics, camps, and online education, IGFA has been able to educate more than 180,000 anglers in the last six years from all corners of the globe.

The IGFA Passports to Fishing program is the organization’s flagship education initiative which provides educators and instructors with a kit that is complete with all the equipment needed to host a fishing clinic. The kit includes rods and reels, education stations, signage, and even bait! New anglers stop at stations which include basic tackle, knot tying, conservation, stewardship, and safety and casting to learn how to be a successful and ethical angler. Once they have completed the educational stations, participants are then able to pick up one of the supplied rods to put their newly learned skills to the test. The IGFA has distributed nearly 200 kits around the world, with each U.S. state housing at least one. One of the most recent events to take place was on May 11, 2024, in Gladstone, NJ.

Kids being taught knot tying during a Passport to Fishing event at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado in May of 2023.

One of the main reasons why the IGFA has been so successful with implementing the Passports to Fishing program has been a result of the great connections with organizations whose mission aligns with that of the IGFA. One great example of these partnerships is the National Parks Foundation (NPF). Thanks to a grant from the NPF, National Park sites throughout the country have received Passports to Fishing Kits along with hosting Learn-to-Fish Clinics alongside IGFA staff.  This year, one of the sites receiving a kit and hosting a clinic will be Fire Island National Seashore in Long Island, NY on June 8, 2024. These Learn-to-Fish clinics are an excellent opportunity to learn how to fish in some of the most pristine locations in the country.

For the upcoming Fire Island National Seashore Learn-to-Fish Clinic in New York on June 8, contact Nick DeGennaro at [email protected]

In New Jersey, the Ocean County Reel Into Fishing Program contact is Amelia Valente Minervini at [email protected], while in Burlington County email Brianna Boyd at [email protected].

Want to learn more about helping put a clinic together in your area?  Contact Nick DeGennaro at the email address above.

IGFA Youth Fishing Camps are also offered through a partnership between the IGFA and several other partner organizations. In the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, the IGFA has partnered with the Rutgers 4-H Cooperative Extension of Ocean County and Burlington County to offer two separate three-day programs in New Jersey. These programs have been built with help of an IGFA Representative Gene Nigro and provide youth with a program that covers both fishing and environmental sciences through presentations, field trips, and a fishing trip aboard a chartered boat!

For those who cannot make these events, the IGFA Online Angling Modules fit the bill. Currently, there are Intro to Fishing courses and Fishing Florida virtual field trips available at no charge to anyone looking to learn through the online approach. On the horizon, the courses offered will cover fishing multiple locations in the United States, fly fishing, and some more advanced fishing topics.


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