The angling community in Minnesota is abuzz with the news about a possible state-record muskie caught July 1 on Lake Sallie near Detroit Lakes by John Gergen of Phoenix.
Unfortunately, we may never know if this fish beat the state record of 54 pounds, set by Art Lyons in 1957. The state government shutdown kept Gergen from being able to contact someone from the DNR to certify his fish. It is now at a Detroit Lakes taxidermy shop and already has been cut open, though the taxidermist says he has all of the remains.
I am very curious about what this fish weighs. The state record muskie measured 56 inches, and this one was 57 1/2, so it seems possible it could weigh more than 54 pounds.
Actually, there are other fish that may have been state records, too, but the anglers released them before putting them on a scale. The catch-and-release ethic is so strong that many avid muskie anglers choose to release their fish no matter what.
That’s amazing to me. I don’t see a problem with someone keeping a fish that could be a record. Besides, I believe that at least some of those released fish end up dying anyway. The muskie doesn’t bounce back quickly from a fight, like bass do. So, there is some mortality caused by simply catching them, although muskie anglers have developed techniques for minimizing the stress after landing.
In any case, the muskie fishery in Minnesota is in fine shape, to the point where our lakes are attracting muskie chasers from other states. More and more folks are targeting the big fish, and the DNR is continuing to stock them in lots of lakes — and adding more lakes to its list.
I’ve caught a few muskies over the years, up to 45 inches. After reading stories like Gergen’s, I’m tempted to try again. But, I’d like to catch a few bass first.