Illinois teen Nick Tassoni might have caught the new state-record walleye, but credit his dad with an assist.
Having encountered slow fishing on the day that ended with a record, Nick fell asleep in the boat at about noon. Waking up 20 minutes later cold and hungry, he asked his dad, David, if they could go home.
“No,” the elder Tassoni said. “We’re staying ‘til dark.”
Nick, 15, knew the matter was settled and cast out a Rapala Minnow Rap on 10-pound Berkley Trilene Big Game line and began trolling with his dad’s Falcon Carolina Lizzard Dragger rod, which was paired with his grandfather’s Ambassadeur 5000 reel. Less than 30 seconds later, his rod bowed mightily and he set the hook.
“As I reeled it in, we assumed that it was a carp or buffalo,” he said. “But the closer the fish got to the boat, we realized this was a walleye—and a big one.”
At 14-pounds, 12-ounces, Nick’s walleye bested by 12 ounces a state record that had stood for more than 50 years. It measured 31 inches in length and 20.25 inches in girth. The previous Illinois state-record walleye was caught on the Kankakee River in 1961.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries IDNR Regional Administrator Dan Sallee confirmed the walleye's weight and saluted Nick’s achievement.
“We congratulate Nick Tassoni on catching a beautiful fish and commend this young man and his father for being alert to the fact that they had a big one that might be a record-setter,” Sallee said. “Nick’s fish easily erased a more than 50-year-old state record for walleye, and this catch speaks to the fun families can have while fishing in Illinois.”
|Illinois teen Nick Tassoni might have caught the new state-record walleye, but credit his dad with an assist. When Nick was tired and cold and wanted to go, his dad said “No. We’re staying ‘til dark.” So Nick made another cast and caught a 14-pound, 12 ounce walleye. Both nick and his dad are NAFC members,
A high school freshman, Nick, caught the record-setter Jan. 7 on the Pecatonica River between Rockton and Harrison in Winnebago County, Ill. The Tassonis reside in Rockford, Ill.
“I’ve been fishing for as long as I could hold a rod and reel,” Nick said. “I believe that getting fishing instilled into the hearts of other kids like me is priority.”
He stressed also “the importance of keeping harmful foreign species out of our river and lake systems,” and encouraged other teens to “get out and fish.”
The line on which Nick caught the record walleye was ten-year-old 10 lb. test Trilene that once belonged to his great grandfather, a founder of a local walleye fishing club in Rockford.
Both Nick and his father are North American Fishing Club members.
“We’ve got the stickers on our trucks and everything,” David said.
For more information on in Illinois, you can visit the IDNR website. www.dnr.illinois.gov/fishing or check out www.ifishillinois.org.
-- Editor’s note: Nick’s sister, Sabrina, contributed reporting to this article.