Mille Lacs Lake is known to be a world-class fishery and home to trophy walleye and world-championship winning smallmouth bass. For years, muskie hunters have speculated that the next world record muskellunge will be found in Mille Lacs Lake as well. That world record muskie may just have been boated by Mille Lacs Band DNR biologists this past spring. That potential world record fish was quickly released back to the water safely.
While engaged in spring electrofishing activities for walleye, DNR Aquaculture Biologist Keith Wiggins-Kegg and an electroshocking team found a giant muskie was also within the shockwaves. “We were not looking for muskie,” said Keith. “That wasn’t our objective.” Keith saw the giant fish surface. He and the team immediately boated the fish. A length measurement was taken, and they quickly snapped a couple of photos before gently releasing the muskie. The team watched as the muskie swam away safely.
The muskie measured 61-1/2 inches. The world record for a hooked muskie is 60-1/4 inches caught in Hayward, Wis. in 1949. The state record for muskie is 56-7/8 inches caught on Pelican Lake in 2016. The state record for muskie using a fly rod measured 57 inches, caught on Mille Lacs Lake in 2015.
The team knew this fish was unusually large–even for a muskie. Their adrenaline was running high, but the main objective was to release what they are speculating as a female back to the water so she could live out her life cycle. “We didn’t have a large enough scale on board to weigh that big of a fish,” said Carl Klimah, Mille Lacs Band DNR fisheries manager. “A fish like this can weigh between 55-75 pounds, but we will never know for sure. We can say that it was huge fish and hope that someone catches it again so we know.”
The Mille Lacs Band DNR Fishery Department is dedicated to preserving the cultural aspects of, not only the Ogaa, but other species as well. As Anishinaabe, when fish are harvested, the fish not only nourish the body, but also nourish the spirit.
The muskie is known as “the fish of 10,000 casts” in the fishing world. The uncertified world record muskie that was boated and released by Band DNR biologists is still out there. Somewhere.