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DNR confirms 78-inch sturgeon as Minn. record

Darren Troseth, left, of Jordan, Minn., and his fishing companion, John Kimble, pulled this 78-inch sturgeon through the ice from the St. Croix River near Bayport, Minn., on Feb. 9, 2019. The fish, which was released, was measured at 78 inches long and estimated to weigh 120 pounds. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has certified the fish as a state catch-and-release record. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

BAYPORT, Minn. -- It’s official. Darren Troseth of Jordan holds the new state record for catching the biggest lake sturgeon.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed the 78-inch catch Monday, Feb. 25, in a press release.

“Five DNR fisheries staff, two DNR conservation officers and the state record certification official reviewed Troseth’s state record fish application and supporting documents. After concluding that all requirements had been met and that the fish had been legally captured, the DNR officially certified Troseth’s sturgeon as the new state catch-and-release record,” the release states.

Troseth, a 45-year-old engineering technician, is enjoying his moment of fame. He’s been here before and knows it’s fleeting.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind, the last week,” he said. “This just confirms it and seals the deal. So I’m pretty happy about it.”

Troseth snagged the estimated 120-pound monster fish while out on the ice Feb. 9 on the St. Croix River near Bayport, a spot he visits at least once a week during the winter.

He’s no angling newbie. He’s been a fishing guide during the open water season for 15 years and is passionate about catching the big fighting fish like sturgeon and catfish. He said he set a prior record in 2011 with a sturgeon measuring 67 inches.

“I’m all about the catch,” he said. “I enjoy the hunt. In the open water, the sturgeon will jump completely out of the air.”

For this record-setter, he and his fishing buddy, John Kimble, had moved to a different location on the St. Croix where they had never fished before.

They were fishing out of a double hole, expecting to catch something big. But this 6 1/2 foot long fish with a 29 1/2 inch girth, would take five holes drilled into the ice to get it out.

After drilling the third hole, his new auger started giving him trouble, so he took to social media to get help.

He is an administrator on a Facebook page called Minnesota Sturgeon Fishing. He put out a call on the page, hoping someone would answer.

About a mile away, two other fishermen, Tim Mattison and Chad Sauter, were checking Facebook and saw his post. They came right over.

“I’d never met the guys,” Troseth said. “I was introducing myself to them as they were drilling the holes in the ice.”

Eventually Troseth was able to reach down into the frigid water and pull the fish out.

“I’ve seen a lot of big sturgeon in my life, but I was stunned when I got a look at it,” he said.

He measured the fish, took pictures and then let it go to be caught again another day.