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MINNEAPOLIS (AP / WCCO) – A Minnesota man rushing to sneak on one final fishing expedition before the freezing of one of the state’s largest lakes appears to have broken a 64-year-old state record.

Nolan Sprengeler, of Plymouth, landed a muskellunge on Mille Lacs Lake on Monday night that tipped the scales at 55 pounds, 14.8 ounces. Minnesota’s previous record for heaviest muskellunge, 54 pounds, was set in 1957 on Lake Winnibigoshish.

The record muskellunge, with Nolan Sprengeler on the left. (credit: Zack Skoglund)

Sprengeler and two other friends had to break the ice for about 100 yards to find open water.

“We had thought about fishing after Thanksgiving, but looking at the temperatures, we thought we better go Monday night,” Sprengeler said. “We weren’t sure we could go to the lake after that.”

Sprengeler, 27, hooked the fish by throwing a large, flexible plastic bait over a rocky reef. He said the three of them worked for an hour trying to revive the fish, but to no avail.

Instead, he eventually made his way to a renowned taxidermy in Conover, Wisconsin, where owner Rick Lax agreed to make a traditional skin frame for the fish and make a mold of it for replicas. can be reproduced in a method that Lax’s father helped develop.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials said all required documents, including witnesses and notarized signatures, appear to be in order. Sprengeler is awaiting papers confirming the Minnesota state record.

“It’s always surreal,” said Sprengeler, who weighed the fish at a UPS store. “I spent so much time fishing this fish with my friends, and just the last day, the last hour like that, Thanksgiving, all those phone calls.”

Sprengeler says the significance of the feat has yet to be fully understood.

“It’s a unicorn,” said Thomas Allen, the digital content manager for In-Fisherman magazine. “It’s a fish that I don’t think anyone has seen on Mille Lacs.”

Sprengeler says he and his friends have been aiming for years to catch a record fish. He says he still wants to set a catch and release record as well as fish in more professional walleye tournaments.

The official world record recognized by most organizations is Louis Spray’s 69-pound, 11-ounce muskellunge that was captured in 1949 on the Chippewa Flowage in northwestern Wisconsin.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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