Home Fishing Tips & Advice What is a Goliath Tigerfish?

What is a Goliath Tigerfish?

If you ever see a set of jagged, terrifying teeth coming your way, it might be smart to start swimming in the other direction. As far as living up to your name goes, the Goliath tigerfish certainly has a lot of work to do.

Unfortunately for us, it does well with this task. This species of fish is massive and daunting with its wide jaw and pointed teeth. If you’re ever in the Congo River basin, take note of all signs of movement around you so that you’re not caught in this species’ toothy grasp.

So, What Is a Goliath Tigerfish?

The fish that kills more than it breeds, otherwise known as the Goliath tigerfish, is one that we don’t recommend seeking if you’re not thoroughly prepared for a fight. This species of fish is native to the Congo River basin, the Lualaba river, and Lakes Upemba and Tanganyika in Africa. So, if you’re planning your next fishing trip, hunting for the Goliath tigerfish, these bodies of water would be your best bet. However, be ready to sign many forms before anyone is willing to take you fishing.

The Goliath Tigerfish is part of the tigerfish group, as could be gathered by its name, and is the largest one within its family. Tigerfish are already known for their enormous sizes and ferocious personality.

If you’re even in an encounter with a tigerfish of any type, you best be prepared with strong equipment. Woe to the prey of a tigerfish. The Goliath tigerfish puts most other species of tigerfish to shame with its unmatched size and feisty character.

It is said that the Goliath tigerfish, with its rows of jagged teeth and powerful jaws, even prey on smaller crocodiles in the area. Some cases have been noted of the Goliath tigerfish attacking humans, though these are rare and likely due to the tigerfish mistaking the human for another animal drinking from the river. If power wasn’t enough to ward you off from an encounter with the Goliath tigerfish, their speed surely will. Even with their massive size, they are one of the fastest fish in African waters.

How to Identify a Goliath Tigerfish

Size is the first thing you’ll notice with the Goliath tigerfish. The largest Goliath tigerfish ever encountered was an incredible 5-feet long and weighed over 150 lbs. Most of these fish will end up closer to the 3-4 foot range with weights between 50 and 100 lbs. The coloring of the Goliath tigerfish will likely blend in with the water around it making it a terrifying ambushing hunter. It’s got an olive back and a white-ish underbelly.

Even from a ways away, this next feature is sure to stand out to you if you see it. Because of the size of the Goliath tigerfish’s teeth, it’s difficult for it to close its mouth, so you’ll probably be staring at dozens of jagged teeth when you first catch a glimpse of the Goliath. Each Goliath tigerfish has about 32 or more large teeth adorning its mouth. These teeth can reach up to one-inch in size each making for one of the most haunting jaws you’ll find while fishing.

It’s rare that you encounter a fish that is visibly muscular, but the Goliath tigerfish is made up of many muscles that help build its terrifying physique. While there are some similarities between the Goliath tigerfish and other species of tigerfish, there is very little crossover in terms of habitat. The Goliath is easy to spot in a field of tigerfish as the size alone is vastly different. While many have the same jagged teeth, very few have teeth as large as the Goliath tigerfish.

Where to Find a Goliath Tigerfish

Any of the lakes or rivers mentioned above will be great locations to find the Goliath tigerfish as these are their natural breeding and hunting grounds. This African fish prefers the warm waters in the region to anything cold and will only be found in areas similar to those mentioned above. The Congo River basin is your best bet at finding the Goliath tigerfish as this is where the population of the Goliath is most steady. In the Lualaba River and Upemba and Tanganyika lakes, the population is a bit more spread out.

Once you’re on any of these bodies of water, you’ll need to find the parts where the water is most turbulent as these are their favorite hunting grounds. The Goliath tigerfish has an interesting and demonic method of hunting. It waits around in the turbulent waters where the smaller fish are struggling to fight against the current. It will then circle them for a bit before pouncing on them and ripping right through them. They’ve thrashed through crocodiles with ease.

So, if you’re set on finding the Goliath tigerfish for fish-watching or fishing purposes, your best bet would be to find the turbulent waters on any of the aforementioned bodies of water in Africa. The Goliath tigerfish, though not as populated as its cousins, is likely to be around, and might even be hunting your boat. Remain vigilant and make sure there’s other species of fish that might make a better meal than your boat first.

What Do Goliath Tigerfish Eat?

Anything that it can get its jaws around. The Goliath tigerfish is famous for its broad appetite and it will go for anything that moves that falls into its trap. As we’ve mentioned, crocodiles are on the menu for the Goliath tigerfish which is rare for any species of fish in the area. Some anglers have made note of 60 pound catfish that have washed up on shore that have been cut clean in half by a Goliath tigerfish. If the Goliath can catch it, it’s on the menu.

If you’re looking for the best bait to use to draw a Goliath tigerfish in, then we recommend utilizing any live bait that is going to make its presence known in the area. The Goliath tigerfish loves meat and will happily expand its appetite when it encounters the right food. Make sure that it’s not too small that the Goliath tigerfish isn’t interested, but not too big that your line can’t handle it. Any local fish will make for a fantastic bait for the Goliath tigerfish.

How to Catch a Goliath Tigerfish

The first step in the Goliath tigerfish catching process is to find where it’s hunting. Once you’re in the body of water where Goliath tigerfish are common, you can start searching for that turbulent water that they’re so fond of. If there’s turbulent water, chances are there’s a Goliath tigerfish searching for its next meal. Move into position and cast your line in those waters. After a while, if the Goliath tigerfish isn’t hunting something bigger, it’ll begin to hover around your bait.

Once you’ve got the tigerfish hooked, you’ll need to hope that the hook is strong enough to pierce into the jaw so that it won’t come loose, even with all of the thrashing that the Goliath is bound to do. If the hook is in there deep enough, then it all turns to the reeling process. There is no easy part of catching a Goliath tigerfish and if there was, it wouldn’t be fun. Your goal when reeling in the Goliath tigerfish is to tire it out before committing to the final pull.

These are humongous fish with insane levels of strength so if you’re not careful, you could find your line snapping, or your entire tackle being ripped from your hands. The Goliath tigerfish makes swift and sudden cuts in an attempt to lose your line, so be ready for quite the intense battle. As long as you have a solid grasp on your line, you should be safe. Come equipped with some of your strongest lines – perhaps those akin to shark fishing. You’ll want to build a line strong enough that it won’t snap during the fight.

The Goliath Tigerfish Kills More than it Breeds

The issue with the Goliath tigerfish that has led to their diminishing population is their feeding habits. The species places more of an emphasis on killing and eating than it does on breeding. It’s because of this habitual hunting lifestyle that their numbers are quickly lowering and it is being recommended that whenever one is caught by an angler that they throw them back after a couple of photos to remember the moment by.

The Goliath tigerfish is a force of nature and certainly is one to be both respected and feared. If you ever encounter one in the wild, be sure to be secured in a boat and ready to run if they start eyeing you up as their next meal. This fierce creature will eat anything in its path that it can get its jaws on and will put up quite the fight against a fisher who is lucky enough to even get the line in.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.