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Record walleye caught in January earns Fish of the Year honors

Nick Tassoni locked up Fish Year honors way back Jan. 7 when he caught 14.75-pound walleye breaking Illinois’ longest standing

Nick Tassoni locked up Fish of the Year honors way back on Jan. 7 when he caught a 14.75-pound walleye, breaking Illinois’ longest standing gamefish record, while fishing with his father Dave on the Pecatonica River. The record-setting walleye was weighed

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Updated: January 27, 2013 6:28AM



Nick Tassoni locked up Fish of the Year honors only a week into 2012.

Then a 15-year-old freshman at Rockford Auburn, he caught a 14.75-pound walleye on Jan. 7 from the Pecatonica River on a Rapala firetiger No. 7 Minnow Rap while fishing with his dad Dave.

The fish was weighed at Pinnon’s meat market in Rockford. Conservation police officer Brian Alt did special duty witnessing the fish and helping them through the record-certification process.

Tassoni’s walleye — a female 31 inches long with a girth of 201/4 inches — broke the longest-standing gamefish record in Illinois, surpassing the 14-pound walleye caught by Fred Goselin from the Kankakee River in 1961.

‘‘I relive the whole thing every time I’m on the water,’’ Tassoni messaged. ‘‘It finally has sunk in and its good to get back fishing the Pec this year. To me, other than world record, it’s the title every angler dreams of. I had the same wishes until it actually happened. I haven’t caught anything comparable but were getting some nice ones.’’

Tassoni enjoyed his brush with fame and had some public appearances, but mainly he sounds like a normal teen.

‘‘School is still school,’’ he messaged. ‘‘Where I live, fishing isn’t a highlighted sport, despite the great bodies of water we have. As for product tie-ins, I wish to some day go pro and anticipate fishing as a co-angler this spring. I think I’m gonna wait for high school to be over before I pursue anything real serious.’’

The curious part of this story was that on March 11, Jim Zimmerman caught Illinois’ first 15-pound walleye (15.08) from the Pec while fishing a 1/8th-ounce Northland fireball jig with a 3-inch Berkley Power Grub and a minnow.

There’s good reason for the big walleye in the Pec and Rock.

‘‘We have been stocking the bejesus out the Pec and the upper Rock since the 1980s and it has created a wonderful fishery and I am proud of it,’’ regional fisheries biologist Dan Sallee said.

Sallee doesn’t think Tassoni’s or Zimmerman’s walleyes are the end of the story.

Nor does Tassoni.

‘‘Lastly, you can ask any die-hard fisherman here, there’s always one bigger,’’ he messaged.

Hunting notes

Canada geese are all over the suburbs. This week in the suburbs should be what Christmas week used to be like in southern Illinois in the 1990s. . . . At least some Downstate areas will have snow cover for the first season of the late-winter antlerless and CWD deer seasons Thursday to Sunday. Some over-the-counter permits remain. Remember, some counties were removed from the late-season hunt.

Stray cast

The quality pitchers signed by the Cubs is like a Lucky Craft Pointer fished with a Zebco 202.



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