Massive northern pike caught in Minnesota tied state record

Brad Lila holds his record catch (Shared by Minnesota DNR / Supplied)

A man in northern Minnesota edged into the state record books in January after reeling in a massive northern pike.

In a news release on Monday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said they certified a catch by angler Brad Lila on Mille Lacs Lake from January 22. The DNR has determined the northern pike Lila caught and released measured in at 46 and ¼th inches. That ties a record set in just 2021 by Illinois fisherman Brecken Kobylecky on Basswood Lake.

Speaking with the DNR, Lila recounted the incredible catch that he brought in with the help of some nearby anglers:

"I set the hook as the line was quickly peeling out. Immediately, I knew it was a very large fish because it peeled out drag and there was no stopping it. After about 10 minutes of fighting the fish, I knew that it might take more than me to land it.

"Every time she would get near, a few inches of slush would come up and we couldn’t see down the hole. An additional challenge was that my braided line would groove the bottom of the ice and when my knot connecting the fluorocarbon leader would meet the ice bottom, it would get stuck. I’d have to put my rod down into the hole to free up my line and then my line guides would freeze."

After about 30 minutes, Lila was able to get the fish through the ice and get quick measurements before releasing it back into the water. The fish was most likely a female that was carrying eggs before spawning.

"It was so satisfying seeing her swim away. I am so very appreciative of the state of Minnesota for supporting a catch and release [record fish] program. It’s great to know that she’s out there passing along those incredible genes and that someone else may have a chance of landing her someday."