Minnesota’s state record fish program will now include catch-and-release length records for lake sturgeon, flathead catfish and muskellunge.
“State records for sturgeon, flathead catfish or muskies can now be set without harvesting the fish,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “However, the traditional catch-and-keep records for all species will remain an option.”
The traditional records are based on certified weight. The new catch-and-release length records for muskellunge, lake sturgeon or flathead catfish require anglers to measure and take a photograph of the fish before releasing it.
Several factors led to the adoption of catch-and-release records. Primarily, the popularity of catch-and-release fishing is growing, and many anglers are reluctant to harvest muskies, flathead catfish and sturgeon to qualify for a state record. Additionally, in 2015 a higher minimum length for muskellunge and a statewide catch-and-release season for lake sturgeon were adopted, meaning fewer opportunities to keep muskies, and a greater number of locations where anglers can target lake sturgeon.
“We sometimes hear reports of large fish caught and released that may have been state record weight. Now we have a way to formally honor the skill of those who catch and release these fish and recognize Minnesota’s outstanding fishing opportunities for these species,” Kurre said.
Kurre also reminds anglers to obtain a valid license and check that the season is open before going fishing. “Anglers may fish for a species only when the season is open, even when catch-and-release angling,” he said.
The certified weight record and catch-and-release length record each have an individual set of guidelines for submitting a state record fish. Guidelines and application forms are available at www.mndnr.gov/recordfish, while fishing regulations and season dates can be found at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.
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. Information about that program is available at www.fishinghalloffamemn.com/master-anglers.