Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012, 9:42 pm

IIlinois Walleye Trail Redemption

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Photo: Submitted
A soggy and chilly father and son, Steve Killinger of Hillsdale, left, and Mica Killinger of Port Byron, happily show off half of their catch in winning the Illinois Walleye Trail Tournament held last Sunday on Mississippi River Pool 14 out of Albany.
The Quad Cities' Mississippi River, mainly Pool 14 that runs from Hampton/LeClaire to just north of Fulton/Clinton, has been the main fishery for three walleye tournaments over the last two months. The Illinois Walleye Trail held their 2011-12 season-ending two-day championship in early September, with the winning catch of a dozen walleye tipping the scales at just 21 pounds.

Then, in late October, the "big boys" came to town with FLW Outdoors holding their professional Walleye Tour Championship on the Mighty Miss. Many thought great weights would be caught, but our river was stingy again -- the winner caught just 15 keepers weighing a paltry 27 pounds over four days of competition.

That brings us to last weekend and a qualifier event in the 2012-13 Illinois Walleye Trail -- redemption at last.

"We had a great day -- even considering the horrible weather," Port Byron's Mica Killinger said. "Dad and I caught about 35 walleye -- about a dozen keepers -- and many slot fish."

Mica and his dad, Steve Killinger of Hillsdale, won the event with a 6-fish tournament limit weighing 22.13 pounds that included the day's big fish, an 8.27 pounder "over." Mississippi River regs have a protective slot length for walleye that says fish under 15 inches must be released, fish 20 to 27 inches can be kept and one fish over 27 inches per angler pre day can be kept -- those are called "overs."

"We mainly fished wing dams using jigs tipped with plastic ring worms and 3-way rigs with crank baits," Mica said. "We had one 'over' of about 28 inches and several more that were close to being 'overs.' One fish, when relaxed, was an 'over' but when tensed up was just under 27 inches, so we released her."

If the walleye just on the line was able to have been weighed in, their winning weight would have been at least five pounds higher or about the same total weight caught by pro Danny Plautz in route to winning the FLW Tour championship after four days of fishing. So it's safe to say, the local boys showed what our river is capable of producing.

Killingers took home a check for a little less than $2,000 for their sterling effort. Max Actis and Mike Stuckert, both of Spring Valley, took second and $1,000 with a limit of 15 pounds event; while Brian Morris of Bettendorf and Armond Pagliai of Iowa City earned third and $850 with a limit at 14.25.

-Sportsmen Against Hunger: This weekend firearm deer season opens across Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Conservation Foundation has for many years encouraged hunters with "excess" whole deer to donate the harvested animal to the SAH program where the nutricous venison is grounded then provided to food pantries across the state. Participating expanded Q-C area deer processors are: Coal Valley Deer Processing (309) 799-5994, Woodhull Locker (309) 344-2235, Galloway Meats, Sterling (815) 626-0305 and Wyanet Meats of Sterling (815) 626-6766.

-Youth goose hunt: The 13th annual (free) Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt will be held at private hunt clubs in Peoria, Futon and Knox counties Dec. 26-27. Youngsters age 10-15 who have successfully completed a hunter safety education course, have a valid hunting license and a 20-gague or larger shotgun can apply (before Dec. 7) by calling (217) 785-8060. Youngsters must be accompanied by a parent or guardian with a valid FOID card.

-Remaining deer tags: Illinois firearm deer tags will be available thru Dec. 2 (muzzleloader thru Dec. 9) over the counter at permit vendors such as Carbon Cliff Bait & Tackle and E-Z Livin', Milan.

-Late-winter deer tags: Illinois counties offering late-winter season tags will be available over the counter starting Dec. 11.

-Spring turkey tags: Illinois first lottery deadline for on-line and mail-in applications is Dec. 1.

-Youth spring turkey season tags: Tags will be available over the counter starting March 5.

-FLW Walleye Tour Championship: The folks at FLW Outdoors received this message, that I think says something about not only that fine tournament organization but all of the local folks and organizations who were involved in the 7th FLW Outdoors fishing championship held in the Quad-Cities:

"On Sunday the 28th, my family and I attended the FLW show in Davenport, Iowa, at the RiverCenter. We went because we are constantly fishing, and it is one of our favorite family activities, since it requires little to no money to fish. We are a family of 6, and can't afford to do many activities, so can you imagine the excitement I felt when I saw that this show had free admission! Needless to say, we were not going to miss this show! I just wanted to thank you for putting on this show/tournament here, and for all the free gifts, and especially the free fishing poles for my girls! They needed one badly -- they've had the same pole for two years! So this is just a thanks for everything letter!" Melissa R.
Bob Groene is outdoors writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. He can be reached at