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Fish of the Week (Aug. 3)

Barry Albach his 25-inch walleye named “Eddy.”

Barry Albach and his 25-inch walleye named “Eddy.”

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Updated: August 2, 2011 11:57PM

Barry Albach caught one of the most memorable fish on the Chicago lakefront Monday, truly a Fish of the Week.

Memories ride twisted lines in human lives.

Shortly after the burial of friend Edward Smolinski in the suburbs, Albach, Paul Crescenzo and David Henkel met at Diversey Harbor. They rode Patty’s Porta Party to Burnham Harbor to fish perch.

“I was just throwing a small jig: casting and reeling, casting and reeling on a four or five count,’’ said Albach, who manages the athletic fields for the Skokie Park District.

He was casting a Mimic Minnow on 4-pound Trilene on a light G.Loomis rod for perch. Perch fishing on the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan reopened for those 16 and older Monday.

About 6 p.m., Albach hooked something different.

“At first, I thought it was a trout,’’ he said.

Until they got a better look.

“When he pulled it to the front, that is when our jaws just dropped,’’ Crescenzo said. “We couldn’t believe it was a walleye.’’

“Walleye? There was kind of pandemonium on the boat,’’ Albach said. “We didn’t have a net and had to get it up to the boat, then gill it.’’

Henkel slipped a hand under the gill plate to lift the fish into the boat.

“We called the fish ‘Eddy,’ ’’ Crescenzo said. “A happy ending to a rough day, for sure.’’

“This is my first walleye,’’ said Albach, who grew up fishing Belmont Harbor.

They kept perch fishing and caught a couple dozen keepers, then drove to Henry’s Sports & Bait, where the 25-inch walleye, with a girth of 13 inches, weighed 6 pounds on the certified scale.

Walleye have been sporadically caught on the lakefront for a decade. It’s unknown whether they are refugees from rivers, nomads from lakefront fisheries in Indiana and Michigan or products of illegal stockings on the lakefront.

Mike Osuch caught the largest walleye (7 pounds, 5.5 ounces) from the modern Chicago lakefront in September 2008 while salmon fishing off the southern point of Northerly Island.

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