Two Potential Minnesota Record Muskies Released In November

Minnesota’s state record musky has stood for 58 years, but two muskies caught just days apart in November from Mille Lacs Lake may have toppled the mark had they been kept.

Instead, Dominic Hoyos chose to release his 55-incher that carried a 30-inch girth, as did Brent Lenke, whose 56-inch musky had a 29-inch girth.

“I’ve been searching for a fish like that my whole life since I was 10 or 12 years old,” Hoyos told Musky Hunter. “Releasing her was the least I can do.”

Echoed Lenke: “I could not lay that fish in the bottom of my boat and kill it.”

For another year, Art Lyons’ 54-pound, 56×27 3⁄4-inch record from 1957 remains safe.

Dominic Hoyos with his 55x30-inch Mille Lacs giant.

Dominic Hoyos with his 55×30-inch Mille Lacs giant.

Hoyos, of Stillwater, Minnesota, and fishing partner Dean Block, of Ramsey, Minnesota, headed out on November 25 thinking they were fishing on a “perfect musky day.” Said Hoyos: “It was the day of the full moon, overcast, with a little haze and fog. The water temperature was 37 to 38 degrees.”

Both anglers own property on Mille Lacs, and Hoyos said, “I live by the moon on Mille Lacs. If I’m going to fish that day, I’m going to be out during the peak windows, for sure.”

They trolled at about 2.8 mph over hard bottom, rock/gravel areas where ciscoes/tullibees would transition from shallow water to deep, in about 18 to 22 feet of water, and Hoyos’ 13-inch Grandma was struck at 12:35 p.m. — during the period of moon underfoot.

“The strike doubled the rod over. The fish kind of played possum and didn’t feel like much at first,” Hoyos said. “She was gaining on us, swimming toward the boat, and I was picking up line. I didn’t know how big she was until I had to turn her. Once she knew she was hooked she put on a show. We knew it was a mid 50-inch fish but I had no concept how thick it was.

“Dean was ready with the net and the fish did one turn out. He asked, ‘Are you ready?’, and I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he netted it.”

After photos and measurement, Hoyos said the fish released strongly. He continued: “We knew the caliber of the fish we had. Yes, for sure. As soon as we let her go Dean got out his phone and we did the [weight estimate] formulas and we did a screen shot of the phone and texted it to [famed Mille Lacs guide Jason] Hamernick and said, ‘We did it!’ Jason doubted us at first, but then we sent him pictures of the fish.”

The various formulas used to estimate a fish’s weight ranged from 56 to nearly 61 pounds.

The musky has attracted lots of media attention. “The newspapers have labeled this the ‘queen of Mille Lacs,’ so I’m after the next queen,” Hoyos said.

Hoyos said he plans to have Lax Reproductions create a replica mount for his wall.

Brent Lenke's monster measured 56x29.

Brent Lenke’s monster measured 56×29.

Brent Lenke choked up a bit when talking about the 56×29-inch giant he caught from Mille Lacs on November 28. “It was a special day for me. It was my late father’s birthday. His name was Robert Francis Lenke, and he died in 2003. He was the one who got me into fishing back when I was four years old, catching sunfish off the dock. And on his birthday I caught a giant musky,” he said.

Lenke, of Farmington, Minnesota, was fishing with his friend, Warren Wurtz, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, on the day of the big catch. He was casting a magnum-size BullDawg off the breakline of a main lake structure and tullibee spawning spot when his fish struck at 12:57 p.m.

“It hit 20 feet from the boat. The line kind of went limp as the fish inhaled it, and if you feel anything different on a BullDawg you drive the hooks home,” Lenke said. “I was using a St. Croix Big Nasty and it bent over like a crappie pole.

“I said to Warren, ‘Big fish! big fish!’ I guess I always say that, but this time it really was. We didn’t see the fish until it got to the front of the boat. When I saw it, I said ‘Oh, my gosh … oh, my gosh.’ The fish made a couple powerful runs away from the boat and I had my drag set completely tight and I didn’t give it any slack. I didn’t give it any room to run. Warren was right there at the side of the boat with the Stowmaster, and it was what I would call a textbook landing. I got her to the surface and I dragged her to the net. Warren did a terrific job.”

Lenke admitted the entire battle was over in less time than it takes to tell the tale. “It was quick … 30 seconds, maybe,” he chuckled.

The musky was Lenke’s personal best, topping a 53×25-incher he caught while fishing with Erik Jacobson of the Just Big Muskies DVD series, whom he referred to as his mentor.

Lenke is also having Lax Reproductions create a replica mount.

Gregg Thomas

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