Angler's muskie from Mille Lacs Lake sets Minnesota state record

Eric Bakke of Princeton caught a muskie on June 11 that was recently certified as a new Minnesota state record. (Minnesota DNR)

The muskellunge a Princeton, Minnesota, man caught over the summer has been certified as a new Minnesota state record. 

The Minnesota DNR on Monday said it has certified the massive, 58.25-inch fish caught by Eric Bakke as a state catch-and-release record muskie. The previous record was a tie for 57.25 inches, which were caught on Lake Vermilion in 2019 and 2021. 

Bakke caught the fish on June 11 on Mille Lacs Lake while he was trolling with a footlong muskie lure. After a minute or two of trying to reel in the fish, his fishing partner Jon Blood netted the muskie. They measured it, photographed it and released the fish back into the lake in less than a minute, the DNR says. 

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"To be able to target and catch fish of this caliber has been one of the great passions of my life," Bakke said in the release. 

Bakke says he's learned the importance of catch-and-release from great anglers. 

"In order to catch more and bigger fish you have to put them back: ‘let them go, let them grow,’" Bakke said in the release. "This record should and will be broken in the next year or two if we all make the choice to keep all those big fish alive and swimming for the next person to experience and catch a fish of their lifetime. I’d like to say thank you to all of the people who have caught that fish over the past 20-plus years, took care of her and put her back. She is still out there for all of you to go try to catch again!"

The Minnesota DNR posts state records for fish on its website here