Rockford teen lands state-record walleye

Nick Tassoni caught a walleye so big Saturday that it broke the longest-standing gamefish record in Illinois.

Tassoni, a 15-year-old freshman at Rockford
Auburn, boated his 14-pound, 12-ounce walleye from the Pecatonica River while trolling with his dad, Dave, in between the Macktown and Two Rivers forest preserves.

After a slow morning, Tassoni latched into something around 1:15 p.m.

‘‘I finally put the motor in reverse, and we went after this fish because he couldn’t move her,’’ Dave said.

They assumed it was a snagged carp.

‘‘But I knew it was a walleye when it got within 20 feet of the boat and started shaking its head,’’ Nick said.

It weighed 14.9 pounds on their Berkley digital scale. That would smash the Illinois record set when Fred Goselin caught a 14-pound walleye from the Kankakee River in 1961.

They squeezed the fish into a red Coleman cooler,
then motored to Two
Rivers. Dave called conservation police officer Brian Alt, who printed the necessary paperwork and met them at 2:15 p.m. at Pinnon’s meat market in Rockford. The fish caused so much hubbub that the scale was moved to a back room.

‘‘My family had a cabin in Minnesota for years, and we never saw anything that prehistoric,’’ said Brian Overbey, who weighed it. ‘‘All you heard in the store was gasps and aahs. When I put it up on the scale and saw the actual weight, that is when I was really shocked.’’

The 31-inch female with a girth of 201/4 inches weighed 14.75 pounds.

‘‘It is absolutely gorgeous,’’ said regional fisheries biologist Dan Sallee, who verified it Sunday. ‘‘A lot of times you get those big old fish, and they get gnarly-looking. This was a beautiful fish.’’

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