By Spencer Neuharth
It’s to be expected that the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is going to have more than a few fishing tales. July 2017 was no exception, with news from Minnesota going viral every week with a fish fable that was somehow more ridiculous than the last.
Let’s all appreciate the crazy month that our neighbor to the east had and deem it as the weirdest 31-day stretch for any state, ever.
July 2: Woman’s Record Muskie Won’t Count
Kelsey Poshusta, of Saint Louis Park, Minn., landed her first muskie in early July on Lake Mille Lacs. It was one for the record books that will never make the pages.
Kelsey was fishing with her father when the 20-minute battle ensued at the end of her 12-inch crankbait. Upon landing the behemoth, they slipped the fish onto their measuring board that reaches 54 inches. Kelsey’s muskie stretched beyond that, as they estimated it was 57.25 inches long with a girth of 26.75 inches, weighing between 52 and 55 pounds.
The state-record catch-and-release muskie was caught in June 2016, which was 56.875 inches long and 25.5 inches in girth. Kelsey’s record-breaker won’t count, though, as the duo had no interest in holding the fish until they could get an appropriate tape measure. Instead, they released the giant to be caught again another day.
July 4: Thieves Busted for Stealing 103 Fishing Rods and 56 Tackle Boxes
While fireworks lit up the evening sky around Mille Lacs on the 4th of July weekend, thieves were working under the cover of darkness to steal thousands of dollars in fishing gear. The spree of robberies ended on Independence Day when their vehicle was pulled over for questioning.
In the pickup was Matthias Munson and Natasha Rickard, along with dozens of rods and tackle boxes. The officer asked the two to describe the brands of poles that they had with them, but the burglars were unable to. Rickard confessed that more equipment could be found at Munson’s camper, which was no fish tale.
At the campsite, officers recovered 103 rods, 56 tackle boxes and five fish finders. Members of a local fishing forum believe the two are responsible for other thefts, like that of boat covers, boat keys and trolling motor remotes.
Munson and Rickard face a total of six felonies and are scheduled to appear in court later this year.
July 8: Governor’s Fishing Boat Surrounded by Protestors
Lake Mille Lacs hit the news again on July 8 when Gov. Mark Dayton visited the lake for a morning of bass fishing. His trip was supposed to promote the lake’s opportunities that go beyond walleye, but a group of protestors cut his outing short.
“We couldn’t get a fish because we had these boats circling around us. One person caught a northern, but they ruined the fishing,” Dayton told local news media while recapping the event.
More than 75 protestors filled boats that surrounded Dayton on the water. They were showing their opposition for the lake’s three-week ban on walleye fishing, which has since stretched to over a month. The ban comes in response to the lake’s low number of young walleyes and harvest quotas that have already been surpassed.
Protestors had their voices heard, but it did little to sway the stance of the governor who supports the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s decision to be conservative with Lake Mille Lacs walleye management.
July 16: 38,000 Mink Released from Farm near Eden Valley
Animal rights activists are likely to blame for the 38,000 mink that were set free in central Minnesota. Lang Farms, located near the town of Eden Valley, had its fences cut and cages opened, freeing tens of thousands of the domesticated creatures that were worth over $750,000.
Within the first week, 15,000 were found dead and 11,000 were recovered alive, leaving about 12,000 still unaccounted for. It’s likely that many more will soon be lost to starvation, but the resources are available for some scattered mink to make it.
If they do, the local ecosystems will feel their impact. Among landscaping enthusiasts, mink are known as “water wolves,” as alluded to by Pond Trade Magazine. This is because of their preference for fish, amphibians and crustaceans, which should cause alarm for the Eden Valley panfish, frogs and crawdads.
July 19: 11-Year-Old Attacked by Muskie on Island Lake
A peaceful swim turned into a traumatic underwater attack for one 11-year-old Minnesotan, who suffered 25 cuts on her legs that required surgery. Maren Kesselhon was out with her family on Island Lake when it happened.
“I couldn’t figure out what she was screaming about,” Ryan Kesselhon, her father, said in a statement. “Then she lifted her foot out of the water, and I could see it was filleted open in many places.”
She was immediately taken to the emergency room, where doctors stitched up nine cuts and repaired a damaged tendon. Medical staff is confident it was a muskie because of the razor-sharp lacerations, but others who are familiar with the area believe it was an otter.
In 2012, a woman training for a triathlon was attacked by an otter on Island Lake. She saw the animal surface just a few feet in front of her before diving under and attacking her legs. Like Kesselhorn, the triathlete was left with dozens of cuts.
Muskie or otter, it seems as though eastern Minnesota has its own Jaws or Nessie.
About the Author: Fishing columnist Spencer Neuharth is from Menno, S.D., studied biology at the University of South Dakota and worked as a fish biologist for five years. For more information go to boofcommunications.com.