What Is Big Game Fishing?

What Is Big Game Fishing?
Saltwater big-game fishing is the pursuit of shark, billfish (such as marlins, sailfish and swordfish), and certain species of tuna. The sport is also known as deep sea, offshore or blue water fishing. Sea-worthy boats and other special equipment are required for this type of angling, which can take place in water more than 3,000 feet deep.


Classic big-game quarry include blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, sailfish, mako shark, great white shark, hammerhead shark and yellowfin tuna. Smaller fish such as wahoo and dorado (mahi-mahi), often caught while fishing offshore, are also considered part of the big-game fishing experience by many anglers.



Big-game angling equipment is different than gear used in other types of fishing. For example, a typical trout angler might use 2- or 3-pound test line, whereas big-game anglers might use an 80-pound test line. Also, "fighting chairs," which are bolted to the rear deck of the boat, are often used to aid the angler in battling these heavy fish.


The tagging and releasing of billfish is becoming more popular as anglers choose to help in the conservation of these fish. Billfish that are tagged and recaught provide important data about issues such as growth and migration.

Fun Fact

"Catch flags" are often flown from sport fishing vessels upon return to port after a successful trip. A white flag with a blue marlin signifies a blue marlin was caught; if flown upside down, it means the fish was released.

Famous Ties

Writers Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey were avid big-game anglers, with Hemingway frequenting the waters off Florida and Cuba, and Grey fishing the Pacific around Australia and New Zealand.


Article Written By Paul Weidknecht

Paul Weidknecht’s non-fiction has appeared in "Outdoor Life," "Yale Anglers' Journal," "Fur-Fish-Game," "Snowy Egret," and elsewhere. His fiction has appeared in "Clapboard House," "Potomac Review" online, "Stone's Throw" magazine, "The Oklahoma Review," and "Freight Train" magazine. He lives in northwest New Jersey. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Muhlenberg College.

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