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'That's A Unicorn': Plymouth Man Lands Record Muskie On Lake Mille Lacs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — A Minnesota man rushing to sneak in a final fishing expedition before the freeze on one of the state's largest lakes appears to have broken a 64-year-old state record.

Nolan Sprengeler, of Plymouth, landed a muskie on Lake Mille Lacs Monday night that tipped the scales at 55 pounds, 14.8 ounces. The previous Minnesota record for heaviest muskie, 54 pounds, was set in 1957 on Lake Winnibigoshish.

Record muskie - Nolan Sprengeler
The record muskie, with Nolan Sprengeler at left. (credit: Zack Skoglund)

Sprengeler and two other friends had to break ice for about 100 yards to find open water.

"We had thought about fishing after Thanksgiving, but looking at the temperatures we figured we better go Monday night," Sprengeler said. "We weren't sure we could get on the lake after that."

Sprengeler, 27, hooked the fish while casting a large soft-plastic bait to a rock reef. He said the three of them worked for an hour to try to revive the fish, but to no avail.

Instead, he eventually drove to a renowned taxidermy in Conover, Wisconsin, where owner Rick Lax agreed to make a traditional skin mount for the fish and create a mold from it so replicas can be reproduced in a method that Lax's father helped pioneer.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials say all the required paperwork, including witnesses and notarized signatures, seems to be in order. Sprengeler's waiting on the paperwork confirming the Minnesota state record.

"It's still surreal," said Sprengeler, who weighed the fish at a UPS store. "I spent so much time going for this fish with my friends, and just the last day, last hour like that, Thanksgiving, all these phone calls."

Sprengeler says the significance of the achievement hasn't fully sunk in yet.

"That's a unicorn," said Thomas Allen, the digital content manager for In-Fisherman Magazine. "That's a fish I don't think anyone's seen on Mille Lacs."

Sprengeler says he and his friends have had the goal for years to catch a record-setting fish. He says he still wants to set a catch-and-release record as well as fish in more professional walleye tournaments.

The official world record recognized by most organizations is Louis Spray's 69-pound, 11-ounce muskie that was caught in 1949 on the Chippewa Flowage in northwestern Wisconsin.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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