Record fish!

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minnesota department of natural resources

Minnesota Fishing

Sept. 16, 2021

Stay informed! Here’s a summary of upcoming fisheries and habitat management activities and ways you can discover, explore and experience Minnesota’s outdoors.

angler holding the state record catch-and-release pike

DNR certifies new catch-and-release record northern pike

The DNR certified a new state catch-and-release record northern pike, a 46 1/4 inch fish caught June 19 on Basswood Lake by Brecken Kobylecky, a 15-year-old from Geneva, Illinois. The previous record was a 45 1/4 inch northern pike caught on the Rainy River in 2018.

The record pike was the biggest fish Kobylecky had ever caught. He was fishing with an Ely-based fishing guide and with about 10 minutes left of their final day fishing, they were trolling for pike.

“We hooked onto a huge pike that was barely hooked, and could hardly land it due to the sheer size and weight of the fish,” Kobylecky said.

Once the fish was in the boat they carefully took a few photos and measured the pike before releasing the fish back to the open water.

“The whole experience went by in a flash but it was an experience of a lifetime I'll never forget,” Kobylecky said.

For details: DNR record fish page

angler holding muskie that tied the state catch-and-release record

Angler ties state record for catch-and-release muskie

The DNR certified a 57 1/4 inch muskie caught July 23 on Lake Vermilion by Todd Kirby of Hudson, Wisconsin as tied with a 2019 muskie also caught on Lake Vermilion.

With two Vermilion Lake muskies now tied for the state record, this well-known water body continues to prove itself as a top muskie fishing destination. Kirby had fished the lake a handful of times and was familiar with small pockets that muskie seem to inhabit.

“That Friday night we were up against the weather. There was a huge storm front moving through creating extremely unstable conditions. The humidity was high, and storm clouds were building. It was one of those nights that the fish seemed to be super active, our boat had multiple chases, one resulting in a 48 inch fish in the net — at that time my personal best,” Kirby said.

They continued fishing into the night and around 10:30 p.m. he had a large “thud” hit his line hard when his bait was no more than 15 yards from the boat.

“I compared it to reeling in a large moving ‘log’ and after a few dark splashes, she was in the net. Everything just happened so fast!” Kirby said.

Kirby and fishing partners John and Will Gavic thought the fish looked 50 inches and were amazed seeing they caught a fish even longer, and one that would earn state record status.

“My bait just so happened to be the one that she ate, but that whole night couldn’t have been possible without the help of John Gavic and Will Gavic. Muskie fishing is a team effort, and when you have a good team on your side, landing a fish of that caliber creates a memory of a lifetime,” Kirby said.

For details: DNR record fish page

a perch held up to the sun by an angler

Perch: disappearing or getting smaller? Research underway

Yellow perch are more than great table fare. They’re an important Minnesota fish species as forage for predators such as walleye and as a targeted sport fish.

The DNR has survey yellow perch for decades. The data shows a statewide decrease in catch over time.

Perch are very adaptable to different environmental conditions and populations can look very different from lake to lake, with some containing mostly smaller fish and others having destination trophy fisheries.

Standard nets used during population sampling only collect yellow perch larger than five inches so it is unknown if overall populations are decreasing or if populations are shifting to smaller individuals. Interestingly, research has shown that in some Minnesota lakes, yellow perch can live out their entire life cycle without reaching five inches in length.

A collaborative research project is underway to develop methods for more effectively sampling of yellow perch two inches long and larger and describe the range of population types that exist in lakes throughout Minnesota. These results will be used in future research to understand the fish community and environmental factors that shape yellow perch populations.

For details: DNR fisheries research page

fishing boat on Mille Lacs Lake at sunset

Mille Lacs walleye harvest opportunity begins today

On Mille Lacs Lake, a walleye harvest opportunity, with a limit of one walleye from 21-23 inches, or one over 28 inches, resumes for anglers Thursday, Sept. 16, and will be in effect through Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Changes to the night fishing restrictions also took effect on Sept. 16. Fishing hours on Mille Lacs Lake are 6 a.m. to midnight for all species. Muskellunge and northern pike anglers using artificial lures or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches will be allowed to fish during the midnight to 6 a.m. night closure.

For details: Mille Lacs Lake fishing regulations

bluegill held by angler with lake in the background

Share your thoughts on proposed fishing regulations

You can weigh in on proposed special fishing regulations that, if adopted, would become effective next year. Most of the changes proposed by the DNR are aimed at protecting and improving sunfish sizes by lowering daily limits on 52 additional lakes. 

For more detailed information or to submit input, contact the area fisheries office, attend an in-person public meeting between Sept. 21-Oct. 20, or complete the online survey through Sunday, Oct. 31.

For details: DNR sunfish page

walleye held by angler caught ice fishing from a large ice house

Apply by Monday: Help oversee how DNR spends your fishing and hunting license dollars

Do you buy fishing or hunting licenses and wonder how the money is spent? Are you interested in good fiscal stewardship? Participating on a citizen oversight committee is a great way to learn more about DNR funding and programs. It also provides an opportunity to provide feedback on budgets and spending that impact our natural resources.

Faith Connors, a committee member from Princeton, shared that she enjoyed working with professionals from around the state. 

“Being a part of this committee gave me an inside look at how license dollars are spent to benefit our natural resources,” Connors said.

Minnesotans who would like to serve on committees that review how the DNR spends Game and Fish Fund dollars are encouraged to submit applications through Monday, Sept. 20. The committees are established pursuant to state law. The DNR needs at least 13 people to fill vacancies on the fisheries oversight and wildlife oversight committees.

More details: DNR oversight committee page

angler in canoe in BWCA holding a smallmouth bass

Learn about fall bass fishing

Anyone curious about fall bass fishing including tackle and techniques for catching this fun sportfish during the fall, is invited to join a DNR webinar at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 29. The webinar is part of the DNR’s Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series, which aims to give participants quick, relevant information on upcoming seasons and events, and skills to help enjoy these opportunities.

For details: DNR outdoors skills webinar page

trout and salmon stamp contest winning art of an acrylic painting of two pink salmon with one about to take an angler’s jig

Trout and salmon stamp contest winner chosen

Shakopee artist Mark Thone won the Minnesota trout and salmon stamp contest with an acrylic painting of two pink salmon with one about to take an angler’s jig. The stamp contest in August had six eligible submissions, and the runner up was Sherry Johnson of Roosevelt.

Revenue from trout and salmon stamps, which are required for anglers 18-64 of age fishing in designated trout water or possessing trout, is dedicated to trout and salmon management and habitat work.

For details: DNR stamp page

winning art for the walleye stamp contest with a gouache and colored pencil painting of a walleye about to take an angler’s minnow

Walleye stamp contest winner 

Owatonna artist Ronald Engebretson won the walleye stamp contest with a gouache and colored pencil painting of a walleye about to take an angler’s minnow. The stamp contest in August had five eligible submissions, and the runner up was Josh Evan of Mapleton. Engebretson and Evan tied for first place, with a tie-breaking vote picking Engebretson as the winner.

The DNR uses revenue from voluntary purchases of walleye stamps to purchase walleye for stocking in Minnesota’s lakes.

For details: DNR stamp page

Find fishing information

You can find the information you need about learning to fish, regulations, where to fish, aquatic invasive species, contacting a conservation officer and more on the DNR fishing page at