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Reeling it in: 54-inch muskie caught by kids

Submitted Photo Ethan Kesler,left, and his friend Joshua Bitz pose with the 54-inch muskie they caught Wednesday morning.

BEMIDJI -- Two local youths didn't know when they headed out with their fishing poles Wednesday morning what was in store for them.

Ethan Kesler, 12, and his friend Joshua Bitz, 14, both of Bemidji, brought in what they said was a 54 inch muskie (about 4 ½ feet) from the Mississippi river near Power Dam.

It began when two decided to go to the river and fish.

They were biking there while pulling a red wagon behind that carried all of their fishing equipment, Ethan wrote in an article he entitled "The One That (Didn't) Get Away," which he submitted to The Bemidji Pioneer.

"I got down there just to see what there was and saw a couple of bass, two river redhorses swimming up in the river," Ethan said in a phone interview Wednesday evening. "So we were out there with our fishing rods trying to snag them."

It was a little later Ethan saw the large Muskellunge, or muskie.

"I went back back into shore to grab my other rod. I had a leader on there, it was a foot-and-a-half and it was a 30 lb test, on my rod I had a 10 lb test line, and I had a 2 inch red and white striped daredevil spoon. I was tossing it out, trying to catch it," Ethan said.

It went by a couple of times and then his lure bumped its nose. And it grabbed it.

"Then I started reeling it in, I just kind of guided it in. Then it started fighting as it got closer to shore. Then my friend Joshua, he got the net around its head," Ethan said. "I was trying to hold it into the net so it wouldn't get away and then it just slipped out of the net a little bit. So I just grabbed it and pulled it up on shore."

When they looked at the fish, they noticed some peculiarities.

"I realized it was blind in both eyes, was scarred in many places, and was missing most of one of its fins closest to its head," Ethan wrote in his article.

The two looked up the state record, which they found out was 56 inches long. The one they caught was 54 inches long, Ethan said.

"I'm not sure how much it weighed but I'm guessing it was 25-30 lbs," Ethan said.

He said he plans on having the muskie mounted.

"This is a great accomplishment for a kid 12 years of age," Ethan wrote in his article.

Joe Froemming

Joe Froemming is a page designer for Forum Communications Co. You can read his blog at

You can follow him on Twitter @JosephBemidji

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