Monday, March 12, 2012

15-pound walleye could break Illinois record—again

BY DALE BOWMAN Twitter: @BowmanOutside

A river rat caught his just dues late Sunday morning.

Pending completion of paperwork and verification, Jim Zimmerman appears to have caught the Illinois-record walleye of 15.08 pounds from the Pecatonica River.

Zimmerman was pitching a 1/8th-ounce Northland fireball jig with a 3-inch Berkley PowerBait twister tail and a small minnow when he caught his 31.5-inch walleye with a girth of 20 3/8th inches.

``This guy fishes more than anybody I know,’’ said Dan Palmer, a well-known tournament organizer from the Rockford area. ``He has put in at least two months of 12 hours a day [on the Pec and the Rock rivers]. Last year he caught one that would have been a record, but it lost 10 percent of its weight in the freezer.

``There is not a more deserving guy to have the record. He puts the time in.’’

Palmer received a call from Zimmerman, a Wisconsin man, late Sunday morning asking what to do to certify it. Palmer told him to contact conservation police officers. They met him to witness the weighing at Blackhawk Meats in South Beloit, Wis.

``My daughter [Bobbie Jentz] was working and she said, ``Mom, oh my God, it was huge,’ ‘’ Debbie Jentz said. ``It was a buzz. People were taking photos out in the parking lot. It was huge.’’

``This guy, this was the perfect time, 14 days before the spawn,’’ said Dan Sallee, regional fisheries biologist who was plans to verify the fish and check paperwork this afternoon. ``That fish will be loaded with mature eggs.’’

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