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BIG FISH! DNR certifies new catch-and-release records for northern pike, muskie

A 15-year-old from Illinois now holds the Minnesota northern record, while a Wisconsin man tied the existing catch-and-release mark for muskies.
Credit: Brecken Kobylecky

ST PAUL, Minn. — Anglers have a reputation for exaggerating the size of a catch now and then, but pictures — and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — verify that a couple of fish reeled in this summer are the real deal.

The DNR has certified that a northern pike caught on Basswood Lake near Ely June 15 by 15-year-old Brecken Kobylecky smashed the state's catch-and-release record. The teen from Geneva, Illinois says he hooked the 46 1/4 inch northern while trolling with an Ely-based guide, adding that it is the largest fish he has reeled in. 

“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 told the DNR. 

Once the giant pike was in the boat, Brecken and his companions took a few photos, measured the pike, then carefully released it. 

“The whole experience went by in a flash, but it was an experience of a lifetime I'll never forget,” the teen angler reflected.

Todd Kirby of Hudson, Wisconsin also finds himself in the record books, tying Minnesota's catch-and-release muskie record. The fish he caught on Lake Vermillion on July 23 measured 57 1/4 inches, equaling a muskie reeled in back in 2019. 

Kirby told the DNR he had fished the lake a handful of times and was familiar with small pockets where muskie seem to hang out. 

Credit: Todd Kirby
Todd Kirby of Hudson, Wis. tied the Minnesota record with this 57 1/4 inch beauty caught on Lake Vermillion July 23.

"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 recalled. 

They continued fishing into the night and around 10:30 p.m. he felt a large “thud” hit his bait hard, 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.

That fish was documented and returned to the water as well. 

The Wisconsin angler credited his fishing partners John and Will Gavic for helping to get the record-tying muskie in the boat, adding that it could easily have been one of them who caught it. 

To check out current state record holders in all fish categories, check out the Minnesota DNR website.