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It’s something to bag about

Teddy “Papo’’ Ruiz bagged one biggest salmcaught from Chicago shoreline recent years. He landed 41-inch chinook weighing 26 pounds 3

Teddy “Papo’’ Ruiz bagged one of the biggest salmon caught from the Chicago shoreline in recent years. He landed a 41-inch chinook, weighing 26 pounds, 3 ounces, Friday at the mouth of Jackson Park Harbor — a king so big its tail stuck out from the saddlebag on his motorcycle. | For the Sun-Times/Henry's Sports and Bait

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Updated: December 2, 2011 2:11PM



Casting a blue-and-white glow-in-the-dark Cleo spoon Friday, Teddy “Papo’’ Ruiz latched into a dream fish, a 41-inch chinook salmon while fishing off Casino Pier near the mouth of Jackson Park Harbor.

For Ruiz, fishing entwines life and family.

After he came back from Desert Storm a Marine corporal and with the seeds of post-traumatic stress syndrome, Ruiz found fishing became a way to “clear his head’’ of anxiety and nightmares.

When he heard of the hot salmon fishing around Jackson Park last week, he focused his fishing there. One night, he landed five.

But Friday was about size more than numbers.

And it turned out to be a good thing that Ruiz spooled his reel with 275 yards of 25-pound Trilene line, knotted because it came from two spools.

“I had to jump a couple of fences, go around piers; then it went out 200 yards and nearly spooled me,’’ Ruiz said. “I finally cleared all the obstacles, and, before I knew it, all you could see was line in the air. I was 20 feet up from the water, and there was about 100 yards of line out of the water. It took me awhile.’’

He finally wrangled the king to shore, frayed line and all, where an unknown fisherman with a net helped him land it. As a melting pot of Chicago fishing, Jackson Park/Casino Pier is behind only Montrose Harbor as a sort of United Nations, which really shows when a big fish is caught.

“His net was about half the size of the fish,’’ Ruiz said.

Ruiz’s catch stirred memories from the other fishermen of the big salmon caught from shore in the 1980s.

Yes, that big.

Ruiz took his, tail hanging out beautifully from the saddlebag on his motorcycle, to Henry’s Sports and Bait, where it weighed 26 pounds, 3 ounces and took a commanding lead in the Richard J. Daley Memorial Sportfishing Derby.

Family memories matter to Ruiz, who entered the Marines out of high school.

“I grew up in Pilsen and wanted to get out of the neighborhood,’’ said Ruiz, whose hero was his uncle, who had been in the Army in Vietnam.

The big king followed family ties, too.

“I shared with my family,’’ Ruiz said. “Everybody got about a fourth. It was awesome. It was delicious. In fact, I have some with me now with tartar sauce.’’

I caught up with him on the phone Monday evening, when he had ridden his bicycle down the lakefront to go fishing again, and he summed up the experience nicely.

“Anytime I’m out here is peaceful,’’ Ruiz said. ‘‘Right now, I’m out in fresh air, and it’s wonderful.’’

A wonderful fall run of salmon keeps going for Chicago fishing.

Places and faces

Suburban brothers Eric (Bartlett) and Chris Burseth (Crystal Lake) won the two-day Professional Musky Tournament Trail Ranger Boats World Championship on Alum Creek Reservoir in Ohio on Sunday. They trolled white Depth Raiders at 4 mph tight to steep rock walls. Their 47-inch muskie, caught Saturday, earned them a new Ranger, motor, trailer and $1,500. . . . Boater Don Hewkin of Zion took third ($1,369) in the Walmart BFL Michigan Division tournament on St. Clair in Michigan.

Stray cast

Even before bucks become legal game in Illinois on Saturday, Ozzie Guillen got his — big bucks. And Ken Williams can go back to hunting does from his blind.



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