ST. PAUL, Minn. - A popular fishing record program is expanding with the addition of the Northern pike.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) catch-and-release record fish program previously included only lake sturgeon, muskellunge and flathead catfish.

“These catch-and-release records have really caught on and now we’re adding northern pike into the mix,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “Photos of these fish have ramped up awareness of Minnesota as a go-to state for trophy fish.”

The catch-and-release category lets anglers submit photos and documentation of potentially record setting fish they reel in, and then set free. Anglers send one photo of the fish displayed alongside a measuring stick, ruler or tape, and a second photo of the angler with the fish.

“Catch-and-release fishing remains a time-honored tradition and when anglers release these large fish they give others the chance to catch them later,” Kurre said.

Anglers can also pursue the traditional record option based on certified weight of fish caught and kept.

To be eligible for any state record, anglers must obtain a valid license and the fish must be caught in season. Anglers may fish for a species only when a season is open, even when catch-and-release angling.

Detailed guidelines for participating in both the catch-and-release and certified weight categories can be found on the DNR website.

Anglers who catch large fish also have the option of participating in the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame’s Master Angler program, which recognizes 60 fish species.