Ice fishing going forward on Lake Mille Lacs might have an eternal hold on Brad Lila.

On Jan. 22 he landed a northern pike that measured 46¼ inches — a fish so large that it tied the catch-and-release state record, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The epic moment wasn't without work either. In a DNR news release, Lila of Hudson, Wis., recalled knowing he was onto something big.

"I set the hook as the line was quickly peeling out. Immediately, I knew it was a very large fish because it peeled out drag and there was no stopping it. After about 10 minutes of fighting the fish, I knew that it might take more than me to land it."

Lila, who called for help from two anglers nearby, said slush complicated the exit.

"Every time she would get near, a few inches of slush would come up and we couldn't see down the hole. An additional challenge was that my braided line would groove the bottom of the ice and when my knot connecting the fluorocarbon leader would meet the ice bottom, it would get stuck. I'd have to put my rod down into the hole to free up my line and then my line guides would freeze."

After about 30 minutes, Lila brought up the record pike, took measurements and released it. The DNR said the pike was likely a female heavy with eggs.

Lila's record stands next to that of Brecken Kobylecky of Geneva, Ill., who caught his record northern pike June 19, 2021, on Basswood Lake in Lake County.

"It was so satisfying seeing her swim away," Lila said.