Winning the Big Pond Brawl in a boat named for Walter of ‘On Golden Pond’

Matt Biggerstaff, his son Isaac and Will Somefield won the inaugural Big Pond Bawl on the Boston Whaler Walter.

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Isaac Biggerstaff with the final big Chinook that clinched the victory in the inaugural Big Pond Brawl.

Isaac Biggerstaff with the final big Chinook that clinched the victory in the inaugural Big Pond Brawl.

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Isaac Biggerstaff’s summer job is paying off.

Biggerstaff, dad Matt and Will Somerfield won the inaugural 51-boat Big Pond Brawl, hosted by Lake Michigan Angler, on June 10. Their five heaviest fish — four Chinook (kings) and a 14-pound brown trout — totaled 75.36 pounds to win $7,133.

Pretty good for the first tournament for the Biggerstaffs.

‘‘I kinda known king-fishing would be tough; definitely a grind to get kings,’’ Isaac said.

But because of his summer job mating for Capt. Blake Keulen on Storm Force out of North Point Marina, Isaac knew that they ‘‘could go north and fish them on the hill off Kenosha.’’

‘‘Immediately, we could see kings on the graph,’’ Matt said. ‘‘We knew we were in a good spot. Within two hours, we had two solid kings and the 14-pound brown. . . . Then the bite shut down.’’

So they trolled deeper and picked up a third big king.

‘‘But our plan was always to pick up and go to North Reef and fish for big lakers,’’ Matt said.

‘‘We knew they are there and hoping they were going to bite,’’ Isaac said.

Isaac said the hot bait of the day was flasher and fly, though they had ‘‘one good rip on a meat rig.’’

They picked away at 6- and 8-pound lake trout, then ‘‘a 300[-foot] copper got destroyed.’’

Let’s set this up: About three years ago, Isaac, now 16 and a junior at Libertyville, started kayak-fishing and did well enough to earn Fish of the Week honors. Father and son moved up to Hobie Pro Angler kayaks the next season.

Then Matt bought a 17-foot Boston Whaler Outrage and named it ‘‘Walter’’ for the mythical fish from the 1982 Oscar-winning movie ‘‘On Golden Pond.’’

‘‘Isaac was wired for fishing since he was, like, 2 years old; it is his thing,’’ Matt said.

Back to Isaac fighting a big fish on 300 feet of copper line.

‘‘It dunked the board [Dreamweaver Ninja] like a bobber,’’ Isaac said.

‘‘Will and I cleared all the other rods and let Isaac fight the fish,’’ Matt said. ‘‘I put the boat in neutral. After a 20-minute fight or something like that, it had pulled out another 400 feet of line.’’

Isaac met Somerfield, who has appeared in this column before, through the Lake Michigan Kayak Fishing Facebook group.

‘‘We needed a third fisherman, he had the day off work and it worked out perfectly,’’ Isaac said.

They netted the 19.7-pound king to make their five big fish. Even at only 11 a.m., they headed in.

‘‘We were pretty confident that fish was ‘Walter,’ ’’ Matt said. ‘‘If you look at the final standings, it was basically a $6,000 fish.’’

When I asked Isaac whether he was going to have ‘‘Walter’’ mounted, he said, ‘‘No, I already have a 28-pounder mounted in my room.’’

He caught it at Baileys Harbor in Door County in Wisconsin.

‘‘When you catch it that young, he is ruined,’’ Matt said.

Matt Biggerstaff (left), his son Isaac and Will Somerfield with the winning check from the inaugural Big Pond Brawl. Provided photo

Matt Biggerstaff (left), his son Isaac and Will Somerfield with the winning check from the inaugural Big Pond Brawl.

Provided

Illinois hunting

Dates for waterfowl-blind draws for state sites — the great social outdoors event of the summer — are July 29 for northern sites (including the Chicago area) and July 30 for most downstate and Illinois River sites.

Solar eclipse

Southern Illinois will be in total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. A reminder that Illinois Department of Natural Resources reservations for campsites, group camps and cabins have ‘‘a booking window of 180 days prior.’’

Wild things

I finally saw my first fireflies Sunday. Still waiting on my first monarch butterfly.

Stray cast

Guess to which cinematic fishing character I most connect.

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