A North Dakota angler caught the fish of a lifetime, and maybe a Minnesota state record, when he won a battle with a monstrous Black Friday musky!
Marshall Hopp of Valley City, North Dakota and his buddy Kodi Johnson of Milaca, Minnesota decided rather than go shopping on Black Friday, they’d go musky fishing. It turned out to be a good decision of epic proportions
They decided to fish Mille Lacs and headed to Reed’s Sporting Goods in Onamia, Minnesota to purchase a couple of lucky musky lures for this special trip. They each chose large Classic Grandma Lure crankbaits as their weapons of choice.
The anglers told Nick Simonson that they began trolling in 25 feet of water off the southern shore of the lake. It was a chilly though relatively calm day.
They trolled over a reef and bounced their lures off the rocks in hopes of sparking a hit. As soon as they passed over the reef and into open water, Hopp felt what he initially thought was a snag.
“At first I thought I was snagged on the reef, but Kodi assured me we were out over 25 feet of water,” Hopp recounted, “and then all of a sudden there was this tremendous thrashing on the surface, and I knew the fight was on.”
As Hopp battled the fish he could see his lure firmly hooked in the giant musky’s maw.
“It was well hooked,” said Hopp.
“Honestly, it looked like a shark as it went back to the right along the boat,” he admitted. He fought his own adrenaline rush and carefully battled the behemoth until it was ready to bring to net.
After they netted the beast, which threatened to overtake their landing net, it took both Hopp and Johnson together to hoist the musky into the boat. Hopp admitted to experiencing an excitement like never before, and when he tried to lift the fish he could barely do it.
“My buddy is a die hard walleye angler, and the tape in his boat only goes to 40 inches, and the crankbait was 13 inches, and the tail still went beyond that point,” Hopp recalled. “Ultimately, we just put a scratch into the boat’s paint at the tip of the nose and the tail to measure later.”
Unofficially, their scratched marks measured an incredible 56 inches. Lacking a flexible tape with which to measure the musky’s girth, Hopp used his cell phone’s USB charging cord. He wrapped the cord around the fish’s belly and then measured the cord to a remarkable 28.5 inches.
By those unofficial measurements the fish was estimated to weigh at least 57 pounds.
What he did next deserves special mention. Hopp released the fish. “My buddy told me to put it in the net at boatside until we could figure out what to do with it, but I told him ‘No, I’m going to let it go. I’m not killing a muskie, especially one this big,’” he admitted. So they took some pictures and video, and with some effort lifted the big fish over the gunwale and placed it back into the water.
“The pictures and the video do those measurements and this fish justice,” he proudly exclaimed. This was Hopps twelfth musky release of the year, and by far it was his most satisfying.
The current Minnesota state record is a certified musky of 54 pounds caught in 1957. That fish measured 56 inches and had a 27.75 inch girth. The largest catch-and-release record was made this summer and measured nearly 57 inches in length with a 25.5 inch girth. Given the unorthodox measuring tactics used by Hopp, it seems unlikely that his fish will qualify for either category.
I’m betting that he’s quite alright with catching and releasing this unofficial record Black Friday musky.
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