Distraught after hearing of a good friend’s unexpected death, Corey Kitzmann headed onto Lake Vermilion Aug. 6 to fish as a means to cope. On the water, he landed a massive muskie that state officials on Monday announced is now Minnesota’s new catch-and-release record.
The 57 1/4 inch fish had a 25 1/2 inch girth with an estimated weight of about 47 pounds, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The prior muskellunge record was a 56 7/8 inch fish caught on Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County in 2016.
In announcing the record, the DNR related the story of Kitzmann, an Iowan with a family cabin on Vermilion.
In the statement, Kitzmann said after a phone call that revealed the terrible news of his friend dying at age 40, he went out on the lake to “reflect on life” and the good times with his friend. After a couple hours with no action, he pulled up to one of his favorite spots that had been hot earlier in the week, fishing with his bucktail lure and an 80-pound line.
“When I set the hook, I knew immediately that I had a nice fish on,” Kitzmann said in the statement. “It wasn’t until the fish made its way to the side of the boat that I realized I had a true giant.”
After a couple of trips around the boat and a jump or two, Kitzmann was able to net the fish and haul it into the boat. A nearby boater and his family came to help.
“After a few photos, Kitzmann got the fish back in the water, supported its belly and watched the fish swim out of sight,” and then floated across the lake for two hours calling friends and family, including his father, the DNR said.