It looks like winter cannot decide whether it wants stay or go. One day there are 6 to 8 inches of snow; two days later thunderstorms rumble through and temperatures rise to nearly 40 degrees. Area lakes generally see between 4 and 7 inches of ice, a safe thickness that still calls for such precautions as being aware of previously drilled holes when on the ice early or late.

Busse Lake has been reporting more than 5 inches of ice and good, but scattered, bites on 6- to 8-inch bluegills. The Fox Chain also has good ice, and reports from Channel, Marie and Pistakee lakes say the crappies, perch and bluegills are all biting on wax worms, using very small jigs. Though off to a slow start because of the weather, the ice-fishing season in the area is in progress. It is important to be careful out there.

One of the most interesting things to happen in the past few weeks occurred on Jan. 7 on the Pecatonica River near Rockton, Ill. The river was still open (no ice), and Nick Tassoni and his father went fishing together, as they have for years, in their little 14-foot boat.

It looked as though this day would be like many others for 15-year-old Nick. Fishing for something to stretch his line, he heard his father say, “You just might catch a record today,” as he did every time they went out. They had been fishing for awhile when Nick hooked into a nice fish — a really nice fish. The rest of the day made Illinois fishing history. Nick landed a terrific 31-inch walleye that officially weighed in at 14 pounds 12 ounces, and broke a state record more than 50 years old. Congratulations to Nick on a great catch and to his father for taking his son fishing. Stay warm and keep a tight line.

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