While grieving for friend, angler lands record muskie

Corey Kitzmann of Davenport, Iowa, owns the new Minnesota muskie release record. He caught this 57 ¼-inch fish Aug. 6 while on Lake Vermilion.

MINNEAPOLIS — Corey Kitzmann of Davenport, Iowa, holds the new Minnesota catch-and-release muskie record, after landing a 57¼-inch behemoth while fishing Lake Vermilion on Aug. 6.

Kitzmann, a lifelong muskie angler, was alone at his family’s cabin when he received word a friend had died at age 40. Not wanting to remain in the cabin alone, he went fishing.

“I worked my way through my favorite milk run of spots with my newly tied bucktail, thinking about all the ways my buddy had impacted my life and the memories we had shared together,” Kitzmann was quoted as saying in a Department of Natural Resources news release announcing the record. “I’m not sure there is a better place in the entire world to reflect on life than in a boat on Lake Vermilion.”

Blanked for a couple of hours, he cruised to one of his favorite spots and threw a bucktail that found a taker.

“When I set the hook, I knew immediately I had a nice fish on,” he said. “It wasn’t until the fish made its way to the side of the boat that I realized I had a true giant.”

Kitzmann netted the fish himself. A nearby boater, watching the action, then pulled alongside Kitzmann’s boat, took photos and helped release the fish. Then Kitzmann called family members and friends.

“As the phone calls winded down I couldn’t help but think that one of my best friends, Brian Cronkleton, was looking down on me that day — Aug. 6, 2019 —is a day that I’ll certainly never forget,” Kitzmann said.

The 57¼-inch fish had a 25½-inch girth with an estimated weight of 47 pounds. The previous record was a 56-inch fish caught on Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County in 2016.

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