Illinois’ oldest fishing record has been rewritten.
That’s thanks to 15-year-old Nick Tassoni, who caught a 14-pound, 12-ounce walleye Saturday (Jan. 7, 2012) to establish a new record in Illinois.
Tassoni, a freshman at Rockford Auburn, was fishing the Pecatonica River with his father, David.
“I’m more ecstatic than if it was myself who caught it,” David said. “When we saw the fish surface we knew it was big. My best is 11 1/2 and this one looked twice that size.”
The previous long-standing Illinois record of 14 pounds came out of the Kankakee River in 1961 and was caught by Fred Goselin.
Nick Tassoni caught the fish after a brief nap and a long morning of slow fishing on the Rockford-area Pecatonica.
“I woke up (from the nap) and was cold and wanted to go home. My dad said no. He’s a diehard,” Nick Tassoni said. “He said we were going to make one more pass.”
Just 30 seconds after Nick got his line in the water for another trolling pass, the fish hit. He was fishing with a No. 7 Fire Tiger Rapala Minnow Rap, his father’s Falcon Carolina Lizard Dragger rod, an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5000 reel that had belonged to his grandfather (Gerald Tassoni) and 10-year-old 10-pound test Trilene Big Game line that had belonged to his great grandfather, Walter William Fox.
“I was reeling the fish in and I didn’t know if I had a fish or a log,” he said. “So about 20 feet from the boat this fish started shaking its head like a walleye. I said, ‘If this is a walleye, it’s a big one.’
“We got this fish up to the boat and my dad netted it and as soon as it was over the side of the boat we knew it was a state record.”
The fish was verified by Conservation Police Officer Brian Alt and was weighed on a certified scale at Pinnon’s in Rockford.
“There were about 30 people in line (during the weigh-in) cheering and clapping and afraid,” Nick said.
The fish was 31 inches long and had a girth of 20.25 inches.
“It’s just an absolutely perfect walleye,” said fisheries biologist Dan Sallee, who saw the fish Sunday. “It’s a female and she’s still green. So she probably would have gained another half pound or better (in egg weight) by March.”
“A lot of the records I’ve got are kind of beat up, gnarly looking stuff,” Sallee said. “This is not. It’s really a nicely conditioned fish.”