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Teresa Toikka-Jensen caught this big largemouth bass on a lake "near Embarrass and Babbitt" on May 16. Its combined length and girth were larger than that of the current Minnesota largemouth bass record. Toikka-Jensen released the bass. (Photo by Chris Jensen)

Was Moorhead woman's fish a largemouth bass record? We'll never know for sure

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It might have been a state record largemouth bass. But it's still swimming in a little lake up north.

On May 16, just three days into Minnesota's 2011 fishing season, Teresa Toikka-Jensen was casting an orange jointed Rapala from a dock at a lake in the Embarrass-Babbitt area where she and her husband were camped. She loves her orange jointed Rapalas.

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"I'll bet I have eight of them," said Toikka-Jensen, who lives in Moorhead, Minn. "That's all I usually use. I think it was a No. 11."

Her husband, Chris Jensen, was out in the canoe with the dog.

"I was bored," Toikka-Jensen said. So, she started casting and soon a big largemouth bass hit.

"I thought I was stuck," Toikka-Jensen said.

Understand, all of this seemed like no big deal to Toikka-Jensen, who declined to name the lake where she hooked the bass.

"I reeled it in," she said. "I drug it up on shore. I could see it was only hooked by one hook on the treble. I thought, 'Huh. Pretty big fish.' But we catch nice bass out of that lake all the time."

She put the fish on a stringer and tied it to the dock so she could show Chris when he returned. When he got a look at the fish, he uttered a remark that cannot be printed here.

"So, we measured it. I took pictures and put it back in the lake," Toikka-Jensen said.

The largemouth bass was 23½ inches long and 21½ inches in girth. Granted, it was measured and marked on the stringer, and the stringer was measured with a tape.

Most length-girth-weight formulas compute the fish's weight at

9.9 pounds.

The current state record largemouth also was 23½ inches long but had an 18-inch girth, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources records. Caught in 2005 in Carver County, it weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces.

Toikka-Jensen could have legally kept the bass. Although most of the state opened for bass fishing on Saturday, the season opens concurrently with the walleye and northern pike season in much of Northeastern Minnesota.

It wasn't until Toikka-Jensen began texting her brother and dad that she realized just how big that bass was. But it doesn't bother Toikka-Jensen that she sent Mr. Big swimming.

"Now, it's like maybe I could have had the state record," she said. "But we'd have had to kill it. I'm not going to kill a fish that big."

She said her husband is getting a graphite composite mount made of Toikka-Jensen's fish.

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