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15-pound walleye could break Illinois record—again

Jim Zimmerman Wisconscaught an Illinois-record walleye 15.08 pounds from PecatonicRiver.

Jim Zimmerman of Wisconsin caught an Illinois-record walleye of 15.08 pounds from the Pecatonica River.

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Updated: March 12, 2012 10:26AM

A river rat caught his just dues late Sunday morning.

Pending completion of paperwork and verification, Jim Zimmerman appears to have caught the Illinois-record walleye of 15.08 pounds from the Pecatonica River.

Zimmerman was pitching a 1/8th-ounce Northland fireball jig with a 3-inch Berkley PowerBait twister tail and a small minnow when he caught his 31.5-inch walleye with a girth of 20 3/8th inches.

``This guy fishes more than anybody I know,’’ said Dan Palmer, a well-known tournament organizer from the Rockford area. ``He has put in at least two months of 12 hours a day [on the Pec and the Rock rivers]. Last year he caught one that would have been a record, but it lost 10 percent of its weight in the freezer.

``There is not a more deserving guy to have the record. He puts the time in.’’

Palmer received a call from Zimmerman, a Wisconsin man, late Sunday morning asking what to do to certify it. Palmer told him to contact conservation police officers. They met him to witness the weighing at Blackhawk Meats in South Beloit, Wis.

``My daughter [Bobbie Jentz] was working and she said, ``Mom, oh my God, it was huge,’ ‘’ Debbie Jentz said. ``It was a buzz. People were taking photos out in the parking lot. It was huge.’’

``This guy, this was the perfect time, 14 days before the spawn,’’ said Dan Sallee, regional fisheries biologist who was plans to verify the fish and check paperwork this afternoon. ``That fish will be loaded with mature eggs.’’

It was just slightly larger than the record caught by 15-year-old Nick Tassoni on Jan. 7 from the Pec. The Rockford Auburn freshman’s 14-pound, 12-ounce walleye broke what was then the longest-standing gamefish record in Illinois, the 14-pound walleye caught by Fred Goselin from the Kankakee River in 1961.

``It was fun while it lasted,’’ messaged Tassoni, whose walleye was 31 inches long with a girth of 20 1/4 inches.

This might not be the last time the record is broken.

``There is another one in there,’’ Palmer said. ``That [one caught by Zimmerman] was 31 1/2 inches. There are 32-inchers in there. There are bigger walleye in that river.’’

``Oh, yeah, there is always bigger ones,’’ Sallee said.

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