A 58.25-inch muskie caught by Princeton, Minnesota angler Eric Bakke is the new state catch-and-release record. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced the record in a press release on Monday, October 31. Bakke caught the fish at Mille Lacs Lake on June 11.
The previous record was a tie between two 57¼-inch muskies. Both of those fish were taken at Lake Vermillion—one in 2019 and one in 2021. Bakke told the MDNR that he caught the fish while trolling with a foot-long muskie lure. A Facebook post from Twin Cities Muskies identified it as a Supernatural Big Baits lure.
Bakke is the former vice president and tournament director for Twin Cities Muskies, a local chapter of the conservation organization Muskies Inc. He credits the group with helping him learn the importance of carefully handling and releasing trophy fish. After spending a couple of minutes fighting the nearly 5-foot-long muskie, he and his fishing partner, Jon Blood, were able to measure, photograph, and release it in less than a minute.
“In order to catch more and bigger fish you have to put them back. Let them go, let them grow,’” Bakke says. “This record should and will be broken in the next year or two if we all make the choice to keep all those big fish alive and swimming for the next person to experience and catch a fish of their lifetime.”
Bakke’s catch is ½-inch longer than Minnesota’s certified weight record muskie. That fish was 57 ¾ inches long and weighed 55 pounds, 14 ounces. It came out of Mille Lacs Lake on November 22, 2021.
Catching trophy-size muskies is “one of the great passions” of his life, Bakke says. “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 says. “She is still out there for all of you to go try to catch again.”
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