A musky caught August 26 from a lake thought not to hold any muskies came within only a couple pounds of the Minnesota state record.
Brandon Graddick, a truck driver from Iowa City, Iowa, landed a 52-pound, 57-inch musky from Straight Lake in Becker County near Osage, Minnesota, while on a family vacation. It had a 25-inch girth. He kept the fish, which died while in possession.
The musky fell just shy of the Minnesota state record and was within fractions of the state’s catch-and-release mark. Minnesota’s record musky weighed 54 pounds and was 56 inches long, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It was caught in Lake Winnibigoshish in 1957. The catch-and-release record was a 57 1/4-inch fish with a 25 1/4-inch girth caught in 2019 in Lake Vermilion. Graddick’s fish may have broken the record had he not waited nearly four hours to weigh it on a certified scale.
Straight Lake is not a natural musky lake, has never officially been stocked with muskies, and the DNR has never captured one while doing its netting surveys.
The DNR’s acting area fisheries supervisor in nearby Park Rapids, Calub Shavlik, told the Mitchell Republic (of Mitchell, South Dakota) it’s likely the fish was accidentally placed in Straight Lake from a musky rearing pond located across Minnesota Highway 34 from the lake. “That’s a good-sized fish,” Shavlik said. “It’s probably 20 to 25 years old. It’s thick and heavy with what you might call broad shoulders. That’s a sign of a really big fish. If it was near 25 years old, it was probably reaching its longevity for a musky.”
Cyrus Gust, owner of Breezy Point Resort where Graddick was staying with his family, said he knows of a handful of muskies caught in Straight Lake over the years, but nothing approaching one like Graddick’s. “It was a huge fish. I’d never seen anything like it before,” Gust said. “And it came from a lake the DNR doesn’t even list as having muskies. It’s a pretty crazy story.”
Graddick was trolling a small crankbait in 15 to 20 feet for northern pike, which along with crappies is one of his favorite species. Fishing had actually been slow in previous days. “It wasn’t 20 minutes when he hit, and when it hit the pole really bent hard. I thought, ‘What the hell?’ because it felt heavy and I didn’t feel any movement,” Graddick said. “It’s a weedy lake, but I’ve fished there enough to know to stay out of the weeds. Then all of the sudden there was one big head shake and the line started going like crazy. I thought, ‘This is big.’”
The fish hit a 2 1/2-inch long Booyah Bait lure that Graddick said he “grabbed out of the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.”
It took about 30 minutes to get the musky to the side of the boat, by which time the fish was pretty worn out. Graddick’s problems weren’t over yet, though. He didn’t have a big enough net to scoop it from the water, but he had two smaller nets in the boat. He grabbed one and put the fish’s head in it. The other was a telescoping style net and Graddick, with his fishing pole in one hand and a net in the other, struggled to extend the second net’s handle. When he was able to get the second net extended, Graddick scooped the fish’s tail end into it. He dropped the rod and hoisted the musky into the boat by grabbing the hoops of each net.
The fish was weighed on a hook scale used to weigh deer at Delaney’s Outdoors in Park Rapids, Minnesota. It will be mounted by a taxidermist in Bemidji, Minnesota.