Minnesota DNR certifies state record tie for northern pike

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has determined a northern pike caught and released by an angler in January has tied a state record.

Brad Lila, of Hudson, Wisc. caught and released a 46 1/4 inch northern pike on Jan. 22 on Mille Lacs Lake in Aitkin County.

“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.” said Lila.

The DNR said Lila hollered and waved for help and two nearby anglers came to help. Lila tried to get the fish to turn its head to come up the hole, but the fish was large and slush under the ice complicated the endeavor.

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,” Lila said. “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.”  

Lila’s catch tied a record from June 2021 by a Geneva, Ill. man on Basswood Lake in northern Minnesota on the U.S.-Canada border.

Minnesota’s catch-and-release program is in place for four species: muskellunge, northern pike, lake sturgeon and flathead catfish, and encourages anglers to release large catches in the hopes of supporting a stronger fish population.

To learn more about the DNR’s state record fish programs, CLICK HERE.