Todd Kirby has been fishing the rivers and lakes of the Midwest nearly all his life, and like most musky anglers, going big has always been the goal. But the night he hooked into the state record fish, he had no intentions of breaking one; and he didn’t fully know the magnitude of what he had caught until much later.
This is the story of Todd Kirby’s Minnesota record musky, told by the angler himself:
We were fishing Lake Vermillion up in northern Minnesota, where the previous state record musky was caught a couple of years prior. It’s known for a being a high quality fishery. Good walleye, good smallmouth, good muskies, good numbers all around.
We had gone up there previously and caught a lot of fish, and we knew this particular part of the lake had produced some big fish in the past; some that had even followed right to the boat.
It was one of those nights when I say the conditions were right. If you know anything about muskies, they eat on majors and minors of moon cycles. They are also particularly active on weather pushes, weather swings, pre-storm, and post-storm. And that particular night when we caught the fish, it was storming pretty bad.
There were tornado sirens, there were lightning strikes. It was super humid and you just knew it was going to be a bad storm; there was just electricity in the air.
I had caught a 48 inch musky right before this storm came in, and after we let the fish swim away we were sitting underneath the rain flap, looking at the live imaging and the side imaging, and we could see a musky underneath the boat.
We had fished that night into about 9, 10 o’clock, had a couple of cold ones, and it was getting late but we decided to target this one pretty big mark before we called it. I picked up a big Medusa lure, which weighs a good pound and resembles a giant bar of soap with tentacles, and got ready.
I had thrown it at her and no more than two tugs in the black night she smoked it. And I didn’t know at the time the magnitude of the fish until we had gotten it in. We had headlamps on, and the boat light, and we were just in awe.
I had never caught a 50 inch musky before, and that was our goal of the trip, to boat a 50. And I’m thinking, ‘man, she’s dang near over 50.’
The second I lifted her out of the net, she kept going, and going, and going, and I’m like, ‘f@#*, I can’t even lift this fish.’
So we get her out, measure her up at 57 and a quarter inches, got some photos and got her back in the water. And I don’t even think we knew what had hit us at the time other than oh sh*t, we just caught a 57 and a quarter inch muskie, which is completely unheard of. If you catch a 50 inch muskie, you’re mounting it.
But man, watching her swim away, we were on cloud nine.
It wasn’t until going home on Sunday when we were calling some friends, sending some photos, that we learned it was a potential new Minnesota state record. And we’re like, what did we just do? A bunch of small town Wisconsin kids just go up and pound a Minnesota state record, let alone me, who probably has no right to catch that fish. I’m just a novice fisherman out there drinking a couple beers and hanging out, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime fish.
It took a good couple months to submit the photos and measurements with the DNR who concluded that it tied the current record at the time, but I felt it was a little bigger. It was also about that time we realized we probably should’ve measured it a little better.
Regardless, it was pretty cool to be a part of all of that, and it was also pretty cool when the record was beat by half an inch the very next year.