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Matteson man lands ‘river monster of the deep’

Shaun Sparks hoists 30-pound-plus Chinook he landed while wade-fishing Thursday night Chicago lakefront. | For Sun-Times Media

Shaun Sparks hoists the 30-pound-plus Chinook he landed while wade-fishing Thursday night on the Chicago lakefront. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 15, 2013 10:40PM

I had given up hope of a 30-pound Chinook being caught from shore this fall on southern
Lake Michigan, then Shaun Sparks did it.

It has been an odd year for kings on Lake Michigan. Numbers are down, but size is up. Boaters and charters reported many 30-pound kings. Many expected somebody to catch a 30-pounder from shore at a lakefront harbor or in an Indiana stream.

But hope waned as October came. Then Sparks delivered.

Sparks, a 33-year-old from Matteson, latched into a monster while wading the beaches on the Chicago lakefront Thursday night and casting a Lucky Craft Staysee.

‘‘I thought I had snagged a carp or snagged one by the tail,’’ he said.

He landed the king after a 35-minute battle. That’s a serious feat because he was using 8-pound Trilene XT — only 240 yards — spooled on a Fuego 3000 reel on a G. Loomis rod.

‘‘You don’t need heavy equipment for those fish,’’ Sparks said.

Well, maybe not if you’re as good as he is.

He weighed the king that evening on the heavy-duty spring scale of a friend, Darnell Guidry of Crete, at 33.7 pounds. To offer some perspective on the size of the king, Sparks stands 6-2.

He had a good night, going 4-for-6 on kings. His previous-biggest king came in 2007 or 2008, when he landed a 25-pounder at Burnham Harbor.

‘‘Now I really have something to talk about,’’ he said. ‘‘Let people know there are still river monsters of the deep out there.’’

Stray cast

Carey Pinkowski is to Lee Stern in Chicago sports what Capt. Ralph Steiger is to the late Capt. Sam Romano in Chicago fishing.

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