The world record muskie is currently living in Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake—or so biologists think. In a recent press release, the Minnesota DNR announced that earlier this year they landed the largest muskie they’ve ever seen. It happened while biologists were electrofishing for walleye.
“We were not looking for muskie,” said aquaculture biologist Keith Wiggins-Kegg. “That wasn’t our objective.”
Biologists couldn’t resist getting a closer look at the stunned muskie, so they brought the fish aboard to take some measurements. It taped out at 61.5 inches, which is 5 inches longer than the state record and 1 inch longer than the world record. They didn’t have a big enough scale to confirm its weight, though.
“A fish like this can weigh between 55-75 pounds, but we will never know for sure,” said Wiggins-Kegg.
After a couple photos, they slid the giant female back into the lake. Based on the fish’s length and girth, biologists think it would contend with the 1949 world record of 67.5 pounds.
This isn’t the first time that a potential world record muskie was caught and released.
In 2013, John Grover claimed that he landed a 64-inch muskie on the shore of Lake Michigan. The Wisconsin angler said he assumed the world record surpassed the 70-inch mark, so he released the fish without any fanfare. It wasn’t until later that day while talking to a bait shop owner that he realized the fish was a possible record.
“When he showed us the picture, I could not believe it,” said Jeff Tilkins, owner of Smokey’s on the Bay Bait Shop, in an interview with Field & Stream. “There it was, and just look at the body. That fish has at least a 30-inch girth, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”
In 2011, Charlie Gallagher caught and released a tiger muskie (muskie and northern pike hybrid) in Minnesota that would have rivaled the current world record. Gallagher’s catch had a 50-inch length and 25-inch girth, with an estimated weight of 49 pounds. The state record is 34 pounds and the world record is 51 pounds, but Gallagher said he just wanted to safely release the fish.
“I knew it was a big fish, but when I saw it roll over in the net I just about had a heart attack,” Gallagher told Outdoor Life.
As for the most recent potential record, biologists aren’t surprised by the fish’s presence. Mille Lacs is home to a plethora of trophy fish, including smallmouth, walleye, pike and muskie.
“For years, muskie hunters have speculated that the next world record muskellunge will be found in Mille Lacs Lake,” said the Minnesota DNR in their press release. “The uncertified world record muskie is still out there. Somewhere.”
Feature image via Minnesota DNR.