May 04, 2012
A Minnesota angler caught what was likely the state record walleye -- then let it go.
According to The Bemidji Pioneer, Don Mickel caught and released a 35.1-inch walleye with a 24.25-inch girth April 4 on the Rainy River.
Mickel said he measured the fish on a spring scale at 17.9 pounds, a number that he and fishing buddy Robert Garin doublechecked by calculating the weight in relation to the fish's length.
If that figure was correct, Mickel's catch would have been a Minnesota state record, breaking the incumbent record set by a 17.8 pounder caught May 13, 1979, in the Seagull River.
So why did he release it?
"As soon as I caught and measured the walleye I called the DNR, told them that I might have the state record and asked them what to do," Mickel told the Pioneer. "They told me that the walleye was a catch-and-release fish and that, because of the regulation, it had to be released and couldn't be recognized as a state record."
However, Mickel submitted his line to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis., which determined Mickel's 4-pound test line had a breaking point of 5.23 pounds, giving him the world record in the 4- to 6-pound class. A replica of the fish will be mounted in Mickel's home along with a certificate and photo of the fish.
This isn't the first time Mickel has flirted with a state record, he said, adding that he caught a 13-pound, 6-ounce walleye in Kansas several years ago, only to see the record broken a couple weeks later.