Minnesota’s state-record fish program now will include catch-and-release length records, but for only three species — lake sturgeon, flathead catfish and muskellunge. Traditional catch-and-keep records for all species will remain an option, said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota’s traditional fishing 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.
To be considered for the Minnesota Catch and Release Fish program, anglers must submit one photo of the fish displayed alongside a measuring stick, ruler or tape, and one photo of the angler with the fish, DNR officials said.
Several factors led to the adoption of catch-and-release records, the agency said. Primarily, the popularity of catch-and-release fishing is growing, and many anglers are reluctant to harvest muskies, flathead catfish and sturgeon that might qualify for a state record.
Additionally, in 2015 a higher minimum length for muskellunge, meaning fewer opportunities to keep muskies. Also last year, a statewide catch-and-release season for lake sturgeon was adopted, and a greater number of locations were included among waters where anglers can target lake sturgeon.
“We sometimes hear reports of large fish caught and released that may have been state-record weight,” Kurre said. “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.”
For complete rules about applying for a catch-and-release record, go to mndnr.gov/recordfish.