A Princeton, Minn., man caught a nearly 5-foot muskellunge in Mille Lacs Lake in June before taking a picture and a measurement and tossing it back. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Monday confirmed the length is a new catch-and-release record.
Eric Bakke’s muskie came in at 58 1/4 inches, up from the prior record, 57 1/4 inches for two fish caught on Lake Vermilion in 2019 and 2021.
Bakke told the DNR he was fishing June 11 on Mille Lacs Lake with fishing partner Jon Blood when he caught the beast while trolling with a footlong muskie lure. They were able to net it after a couple of minutes trying to reel it in.
In the DNR statement, Bakke gave a nod to anglers who choose to put their big catches back in the water for future enjoyment, including those who might have caught the Mille Lacs monster muskie before him and agreed to let it go.
“I’d like to say thank you to all of the people who have caught that fish over the past 20-plus years, took care of her and put her back,” he said. “She is still out there for all of you to go try to catch again!”
The DNR did not say if the fish had offered to grant three wishes in return for tossing it back into Mille Lacs.
Editor’s note (Oct. 31, 2022): An earlier version of this story described the fish as nearly 6 feet in length. It should have been 5 feet. The editor just blew it.
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