101 Braggable Fish

Adam’s big goal in life is to catch 101 “braggable” species of fish. Initially what started as a passion for catching smallmouth bass in Minnesota has taken him all over the world in pursuit of various fish. You can follow along his pursuit of his 101 braggable fish here.

Before we go into the full list, I think it is important to acknowledge that not all these fish are trophy fish to all fishermen. Note that my pursuit is not of 101 trophies, but of 101 braggable fish. You know, fish that you feel warrant bragging about. The type where if you have a photo, you would want to show to friends, family and anyone else you could get to look at it. Some of these are likely legit trophy fish. But many aren’t. None are record breaking fish. But they are fish that I am proud to have caught and more than willing to tell stories about. And even occasionally brag about. Many of them I know the general length or weight of. But not all of them. This list is not a list of all the species I’ve caught. Just the ones worth bragging about.

Also, you may notice that currently my list is missing fish you might expect to be there. For instance, I do not have a northern pike on this list. To me, a trophy northern pike has to be 40 inches plus. You can brag about one over 36 inches. I have caught many pike, even thousands. I have landed a handful around 36 inches long. I even one time had one just shy of 40 inches at the side of my canoe. But that fateful day I didn’t have a net or any way to get the pike in the canoe for the picture, so I carefully released it rather than risk injuring myself or the beautiful fish. So I am missing a pike. Someday I hope to add a large pike to my list. For now I am grateful for the fish that are on my list. 

#1 Smallmouth Bass

The first trophy fish Iever caught was a smallmouth bass on Crane Lake Minnesota in the summer of 2000. Even though my first “big one” wasn’t something I’d now consider a trophy, I celebrated as if it was. For a funny story check out a blog I wrote about that day. Since then I have caught numerous 20 inch plus smallmouths and even a couple that cracked 21 inches. My personal best was caught on Knife Lake in the BWCA out of a cane and came in just over 21 inches long. For me, any smallmouth over 18 inches is braggable and any over 20 inches would be a trophy. Still to this day, smallmouth bass fishing is a favorite of mine!

# 2 Bluegill

In northern Minnesota when the sun is shining and the water temperature is warm we catch a lot of Bluegills. Usually they are 8-10 inches long. But I caught my personal best in the summer of 2000 when I landed a 12 inch Bluegill. I was using light tackle and had a good time with the catch. For me, I don't think you should keep a bluegill under 10 inches. Any over 12 inches is something to brag about.

# 3 Lake Trout

I caught my first, and still to this day my biggest lake trout in October of 2000. I was fishing top water lures for big pike in David Lake in Canada when a massive laker hit my super spook. Since then I have caught dozens of lake trout while intentionally trying to catch them and never topped the size of the laker I caught that fall day. My personal best is 34 inches long weighing 14 pounds. For me, I feel that any lake trout over 24 inches is something to brag about. Granted, lake trout can be huge, but most people don't catch one over 30 inches long.

# 4 Largemouth Bass

Spending 3 summers living and working as a dock boy for a fishing lodge gave me loads of time to spend fishing. During those three summers I caught dozens of braggable largemouth bass. I don’t even know when I caught my first braggable largemouth. I was more into smallmouth bass fishing and didn’t keep track of details with the largemouth the way I did with smallmouth bass. But regardless, I’ve caught many and enjoy fishing for largemouth bass as well. My personal best is just shy of 6 pounds. I’ve only fished for them in Minnesota and Canada so I hope to someday go after a lunker in Texas or somewhere warmer where they grow even bigger. Personally I think you can brag about a largemouth over 18 inches. 

#5 Mooneye

A friend and I decided to float the Vermillion river one day in a canoe and we caught a bunch of walleye, pike and smallmouth bass that day. We were quite surprised when we caught dozens of silvery flat fish that we couldn't identify. We took some pictures of the fish and looked them up. They were Mooneye. Looked kinda like a longer silvery crappie. My biggest was 15 inches long

# 6 Rainbow Trout

Growing up in Utah and fishing in the mountain lakes and streams I caught many rainbow trout. But I didn't catch one worth bragging about until 2005. That summer, late one evening I landed a 19 incher in a stream in southern Utah. Still to this day that is my personal best for rainbow trout.

# 7 Snowy Grouper

In 2006 I had my first opportunity to go fishing on the ocean. I was living in Key West Florida and a friend invited me to go deep water fishing with him. What a day! That day I added two species to my list of braggable fish. The first was this snowy grouper. I don't know the length or weight, but it was good enough to brag about. This was the first time it took me two hands to show off a fish!

# 8 Tilefish

The second braggable fish I caught that day was a tilefish. We were fishing off the florida keys in 600 feet of water. Took a long time to reel in all that line once a fish was on! Again, I don't know the measurements of the fish, I was just pleased to catch it.

# 9 Blue Runner Jack

 Jacks are common and caught frequently when fish flats or trolling deep water. I caught this one near a ship wreck in the Florida Keys. Personally I like to fish for Jacks. I find they fight hard and taste pretty good.

# 10 Walleye

Living in northern Minnesota and moonlighting as a part time fishing guide means that you fish walleye. However, for years I didn’t enjoy fishing for walleyes. I much preferred bass fishing. So I’d only fish for walleye when a client or friend asked me to take them walleye fishing. I did manage to land a few that were decent in size (23 to 24 inches) but no monsters. When we moved to Pelican Lake in 2015 that all changed. I saw some of our guests bring in huge, even 30 inch, walleyes and I realized I might be missing out on an opportunity to improve as a fisherman. So I started working on becoming a better walleye fisherman. Now, I love walleye fishing. It is hard. The bite is very different from a bass and you have to be good to get the big ones hooked. I’m hooked! I’ve now landed over a dozen 27 inch plus walleyes and my personal best is just over 29 inches. I am hopeful to crack 30 inches someday. I believe that any walleye over 25 inches is worth bragging about and a trophy is over 28 inches. If you are able to land a 30 inch plus walleye that puts you in a very elite category.

# 11 Crappie

Over the years I've caught hundreds of crappies. Crappie is my wife's favorite freshwater fish for eating so we tend to fish for them in the fall. I've caught loads of 12s, 13s and some 14 inchers. But it wasn't until 2015 that I caught my first 15 incher. I was so pleased that I didn't even realize until later (when I was showing the picture to someone) that the top of my head was cut off when we captured the moment!

# 12 Spanish Mackerel

Our family purchased a fishing lodge in Belize in 2019 and I found myself in a brand new world of fishing opportunities. Spending time in the winter salt water fishing was a dream come true. The first fish I caught in Belize that was worth bragging about was a spanish mackerel. Most of the mackerel that I've caught are 18-22 inches long. This one came in at 27 inches.

# 13 Jack Crevalle

I've always enjoyed fishing for jacks. My favorite jack to catch is the jack crevalle. What a fighter! These things are like smallmouth bass on steroids. Such powerful swimmers and ferocious strikes. I've caught them in open ocean and in rivers when the water is brackish. This one in particular was caught in a river and was the largest I've ever caught. Came in at 12 pounds.

# 14 Snook

Snook can be caught in salt water and fresh water. Most of the snook I've caught have been in brackish water when the tide is changing. They come across the water like a torpedo right before the strike. Sometimes I struggle because I set the hook too quickly due to being able to see them coming and getting too excited.

# 15 Trigger Fish

I caught this guy on accident. We were fishing for permit and not only did we see one, but I managed to land my cast right next to it. Excitedly I watched the permit turn to hit the fly but just then this trigger fish came out from under the coral head and slimed my fly. I was disappointed that I missed out on the permit, but pleased with the size of this trigger fish. I've caught loads of smaller ones, but this is the biggest I've landed.

# 16 Bonefish

For Christmas one year my wife gave me a day of guided fly fishing off the coast of Belize. What a blast. I'd never caught bonefish prior to that day and loved it. Easy to spook but good fighters made them a real sport fish. This 21 incher was the largest I caught that day.

# 17 Barracuda

Having fished in Belize as much as I have, I've caught hundreds of barracudas. Most are around 3 feet long with a few up to 4 feet long. My personal best is just over 5 feet long. Often called snaggle tooths due to their crazy teeth, these creatures are great fighters and very aggressive when chasing your lure or bait. For me, a barracuda is like fishing for a saltwater pike.

# 18 Lane Snapper

Lane Snappers aren't a big fish and not one many people brag about. But they taste great and are fun to catch on light tackle. My friend Rene is a local Belizean fisherman and supplies fresh fish to the local market to support his family. He asked me to join him one day to which I happily agreed and we caught almost 100 of these in a few hours. Most were between 10-12 inches long. I did manage to catch one just over 14 inches long.

# 19 Horse-eye Jack

Another species of jack that I've caught is a horse-eye jack. These are a common fish to catch and as with most jacks, they are good fighters. This one was caught jigging live bait in 65 feet of water. We were fishing for snappers and grouper when I hooked it. Jacks are found everywhere in places like Belize.

# 20 Queen Trigger Fish

Not as common as a regular trigger fish, the queen trigger fish is one of the most beautiful fish I've ever caught. Usually they are caught while reef fishing. I tend to catch them more in deeper reefs than shallow reefs but never more than 100 feet deep. I have no idea if they taste good because when a fish is this pretty I tend to let them go.

# 21 Queen Snapper

I caught this queen snapper the same day I caught my biggest queen trigger fish. After fishing reefs and such we headed out to deep water. We were deep dropping in 900 feet of water when I hooked this queen snapper. I was quite pleased with this catch since queen snappers are not a commonly caught fish. This one came in at 29 inches long.

# 22 Yellow Tail Snapper

Yellow tail snappers are a very common fish to catch when reef fishing in Belize. Most are around 12-13 inches long. My personal best was just a hair shy of 18 inches. This fish is pretty fun to catch when using light tackle.

# 23 Mutton Snapper

Of all the snappers I've caught in Belize, mutton snapper is arguably the best tasting. We usually catch these around coral heads and often have to fight to get them out of the coral. We see them frequently caught at about 20 inches in length. My personal best is this one at 25 inches long.

# 24 Yellow Eye Rockfish

In April of 2022 Brock and I took a trip to Alaska to do some ocean fishing. We caught so many rockfish. The largest yellow eye rockfish that I caught on that trip was this one at 29 inches. Most of them were caught in about 200 feet of water while jigging.

# 25 Lingcod

The lingcod isn't actually a cod. And it is one of my favorite fish to catch in Alaska. Great fighters and tons of sharp teeth. We caught a lot of these on our trip and my personal best was this one at 43 inches long.

# 26 Halibut

If you are going to fish in Alaska, then I highly recommend fishing for Halibut. Once you hook one, they try to swim straight back down and it takes forever to reel them in. While I've not yet caught a "barn door" I did enjoy catching quite a few. My personal best is this 42 incher. And yes, they taste great!

# 27 Pacific Cod (Grey Cod)

If you are going to fish in Alaska for halibut you are very likely to catch a lot of cod. We caught dozens of these. Most were around 2 feet long. This was my personal best and came in at 30 inches long.

# 28 Black Rockfish

My son, Brock, caught about half a dozen species of rockfish on our trip. But I only caught two species of rock fish. Fortunately for me, I did manage to catch large ones of the ones I caught! This is a black rockfish. I have a hard time distinguishing between black rockfish and dusky rockfish.

# 29 Arrow Tooth Flounder

This flounder was caught on a very foggy day in Alaska. We were fishing for halibut and when I first saw it in the water I mistook it for a halibut. Once I pulled it in the boat the rows of razor sharp teeth in its mouth told me it was no halibut. Apparently they aren't good to eat and I think they are downright ugly.

# 30 Peruvian Rock Sea Bass

The rock sea bass in Peru is one of the prettiest fish I've ever caught. Aqua blue colors with dark stripes and orange dots give it a unique coloring. But the coloring works as they hide very well in the rocks waiting to ambush their prey. We used soft plastics to fish for them very similar to fishing for smallmouth in Minnesota. Most Peruvian rock sea bass are between 14-16 inches long. My personal best is a 19 incher. Great fighting fish!

# 31 Spotted Hound Shark

We waded out into waist deep water to cast into the surf when I caught this shark. This is my very first shark I'd ever landed. Came in at 25 pounds. Unlike most of my fish, this one was hooked in the tail and it swam away from me for almost 20 minutes before I was able to reel it in. What a blast!

# 32 Jundia or Wels Catfish

The Jundia is an Amazonian catfish with hexagon like patterns all over its body. This was the first type of catfish that I caught in the Amazon. I only caught 3 or 4 of them with most of them weighing just over 10 pounds. My biggest came in at 16 pounds.

# 33 Black Piranha

Nothing says fishing the Amazon like catching Piranhas. Prior to going to Brazil I assumed that piranhas were relatively small with most of them being around 1 pound. That wasn't the case. I caught dozens of them and most were between 3 and 5 pounds. I also caught several 6s a few 7s and one over 8 pounds! These fish are extremely aggressive and I found them fun to catch. We caught them while using cut bait while trying to catch big catfish.

# 34 Flat Whiskered Catfish

There are over 1000 different types of catfish that live in the Amazon river. Of them, we found the flat whiskered catfish to be the most commonly caught. I caught over a dozen of these in my 6 days of fishing in the Amazon with the biggest coming in right at 9 pounds.

# 35 Traira or Amazon Wolf Fish

Few fish in the Amazon hit your lure soft. Of the hardest hitting fish we caught, the wolf fish was one of the best. We caught these on cut bait, lures and jigs. They were ferocious predators and once hooked kept on fighting. They jumped out of the water and one even jumped up and bit our guide on the hand while he was trying to grip it. They have huge teeth and our guide was lucky not to lose his finger. Most of them we caught weighed between 10 and 12 pounds. My biggest traira weighed over 18 pounds!

# 36 Surubim orTiger Shovelnose Catfish

After the Red Tailed Catfish, I thought the Surubim was the prettiest catfish we caught in the Amazon. Interestingly enough, these catfish are very popular for large aquariums due to their unique coloring and combination of stripes and dots. I caught 5 or 6 of these during my week there with most of them between 9 and 13 pounds. My biggest tiger shovel nosed catfish I caught came in at 17 pounds.

# 37 Cichla Temensis or Peacock Bass

Of all the fish I've caught, few are prized more than catching a nice peacock bass. This was the number one fish I wanted to catch in the Amazon and it did not disappoint. Fantastic fighters and gorgeous colorings. It rained a lot while we were in the Amazon and the water was rising, which is not ideal conditions for fishing for peacock bass. So our numbers of fish weren't great. But we caught some nice sized fish. My largest came in at 10.5 pounds.

# 38 Piraiba or Goliath Catfish

I'd seen people catch piraibas on tv and on youtube, but I didn't expect to catch one myself. They are not as frequently caught as other species of catfish. So trust me when I say I was pretty excited to catch not one, but two of these mammoth catfish. The first came in at around 100 pounds and the second was measured at 6 feet 3 inches long and over 200 pounds! It is safe to say, that as of catching this fish it is the largest fish I've ever successfully landed!

# 39 Jaguar Cichlid

I spent a day fishing on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica near the Arenal Vocano hoping to land a nice Rainbow bass or Guapote. I caught half a dozen 2 and 3 pound Guapotes, but not one big enough to brag about. But along with the rainbow bass I caught, I did manage to catch a nice 3 pound Jaguar Cichlid. Very pretty fish and a decent fighter for its size.

# 40 Rooster Fish

For years I've wanted to try to catch a rooster fish. These fish are gorgeous with the dark plume and striped body. Even with all the excitement and planning I was still surprised with the ferocious fight this fish put up! Such a beautiful fish. My trophy came in at 49 inches long and about 50 pounds. Totally checked the box on this one!

# 41 African Pompano or Threadfin Trevally

This beauty hit while I was fishing reefs in Belize. I was fishing for jacks and cudas and didn't expect a pompano to hit. The light played beautifully off its scales, especially when we looked at it under water. Great fight and powerful swimmer. Don't know the exact measurements on the fish as I was too worried about the fish and wanted to get it back in the water for a safe release as soon as the picture was snapped. What a day!

# 42 Yellow Jack

I talk to fishermen who don't think much of jacks, but I disagree. I enjoy catching them, especially on light tackle over reefs. Caught this yellow jack in about 10 feet of water around some coral heads 32 miles off shore in Belize.

# 43 Pink Salmon

I had the opportunity to spend a morning fishing the kennel creek area just outside of Hoonah Alaska. I managed to catch over 35 pink salmon in under 2 hours. Most were only 2-3 pounds, but I did manage to catch a couple of pretty decent pinks. The largest came in about 5 pounds. Lots of fight in them and it was gorgeous on the river.

# 44 Chum Salmon

While fishing for pink salmon I could see a couple of chums in the water. It was very late in the season for them and the pinks were so much more aggressive that our guide told us we were very unlikely to catch anything besides a pink salmon. But I was fortunate to catch one chum salmon amongst all the pink salmon. It was only about 10 pounds and quite old, but I was very pleased to catch one!

# 45 Coho or Silver Salmon

In Seward we trolled for kings and cohos and managed to catch a few of each. I managed to land 3 decent sized coho salmon and brought home some excellent fillets!

# 46 Alaskan Pollock or Walleye Pollock

While trolling for kings and cohos we had a few pollock hit. Most weren't very large, but this one was above average size. The guide called it a Walleye Pollock and of course that made me interested in it.

Hoping to catch...

There are so many fish in the world that I’m hoping to one day brag about catching. Here is my list of fish I most want to move from my hopeful list to my caught list. Some of them I have caught but I didn’t think they were big enough to brag about. I’ve marked them with an asterisk.

  1. King Salmon
  2. Bluefin Tuna
  3. Wahoo
  4. Sockeye Salmon
  5. Muskie
  6. Jumbo Perch*
  7. Brown Trout
  8. Northern Pike*
  9. Red Tail Catfish*
  10. Splake Trout*
  11. Blue Marlin
  12. Guapote (Rainbow Bass)
  13. Corvino (Sea Bass)
  14. Tiger Rockfish
  15. Bullhead catfish
  16. Schoolmaster Snapper*
  17. Redfish
  18. Tarpon
  19. African Pompano
  20. Alligator Gar
  21. Sheepshead
  22. Quillback Rockfish
  23. Arctic Grayling
  24. Arctic Char
  25. Dolly Varden
  26. Red Snapper
  27. Kingfish
  28. Goliath Grouper
  29. Striped Bass
  30. Payara (Vampire Fish)*
  31. Black Grouper
  32. Machaca
  33. Permit
  34. Bonito
  35. Nassau Grouper
  36. Yellowfin Tuna
  37. Cubera Snapper
  38. Amber Jack
  39. Brook Trout
  40. Black Cod
  41. Blackfin Tuna
  42. Blue Catfish
  43. Croaker
  44. Paccu
  45. Sailfish
  46. Cutthroat Trout
  47. Arapaima
  48. Cobia