Hybrid sunfish sets new record

An angler caught a one pound 12-ounce hybrid sunfish from Green Lake in Kandiyohi County that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has certified as tying the weight-based state record. The record fish’s weight ties that of a hybrid sunfish caught from the Zumbro River in 1994.

Aaron Ardoff caught the sunfish on Sept. 18 when he was fishing with his brother and a friend. He was catching bass and pike with a black and orange spinnerbait when the sunfish bit his lure.

“As soon as I started reeling, I could tell this wasn’t fighting like a pike or bass,” Ardoff said. “When the fish got closer I could see that it was a sunfish and I started panicking! I kept telling myself to not go crazy and just get it in.” 

Ardoff brought the fish to a local tackle shop, where he met the local fisheries supervisor who identified the fish as a hybrid sunfish and witnessed the fish weighed on the shop’s certified scale. A hybrid sunfish is a cross between two species of sunfish.

An angler caught and released a new Minnesota state record muskellunge on Mille Lacs Lake

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources certified the state catch-and-release record muskie, a 58.25-inch fish caught by Eric Bakke of Princeton. The previous record was a tie for 57.25-inch muskies, which were caught on Lake Vermilion in 2019 and 2021.

Bakke was fishing on June 11 on Mille Lacs Lake with fishing partner Jon Blood and caught the huge fish while trolling with a footlong muskie lure. After a minute or two of trying to reel in the fish, Blood was able to net it and they measured, photographed and released the fish in less than a minute.

“To be able to target and catch fish of this caliber has been one of the great passions of my life,” Bakke said.

Bakke said he’s been fortunate to be able to learn from and fish with some great anglers, and that joining Muskies Inc. helped him understand the importance of handling and releasing these big fish with care and purpose.

“In order to catch more and bigger fish you have to put them back: ‘let them go, let them grow,’” Bakke said. “This record should and will be broken in the next year or two if we all make the choice to keep all those big fish alive and swimming for the next person to experience and catch a fish of their lifetime. I’d like to say thank you to all of the people who have caught that fish over the past 20-plus years, took care of her and put her back. She is still out there for all of you to go try to catch again!”