A 58.25-inch muskie caught by angler Eric Bakke of Princeton, Minn., is the new state catch-and-release record. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced the registration in a press release on Monday, October 31. Bakke caught the fish in Lake Mille Lacs on June 11.
The previous record was a tie between two muskies at 57¼ inches. Both fish were caught in Lake Vermillion, one in 2019 and one in 2021. Bakke told the MDNR he caught the fish while fishing a foot-long muskie lure. A Twin Cities Muskies Facebook post identified it as a Supernatural Big Baits lure.
Bakke is the former vice president and tournament director of the 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 fishing partner Jon Blood were able to measure it, photograph it, and release it in less than a minute.
“To catch more and bigger fish you have to put them back. Let them go, let them grow,’” says Bakke. “This record should and will be broken in the next year or two if we all decide to keep all these big fish alive and swimming for the next person to experience and catch a fish of their life.”
Bakke’s catch is ½ inch longer than Minnesota’s certified weight record. That fish was 57 ¾ inches long and weighed 55 pounds, 14 ounces. Departed Lake Mille Lacs on November 22, 2021.
Catching trophy-sized mosquitoes is “one of the great passions” of his life, Bakke says. “I would like to thank all the people who have caught this fish over the last 20 years, cared for it, and put it back,” he says. “She’s still out because all of you are going to try and catch her again.”