Luis Gonzalez caught a 25-pound blue catfish on Feb. 6 while shore fishing at Powerton Lake. Boat fishing reopens today, Feb. 15, at the Pekin cooling lake.

“The most amazing thing was that we were already packing up when [his] reel started to scream drag,’’ texted Ricardo Cruz, yes, the Chicagoan who holds the Illinois whitefish record.

Gonzalez’s cousin, James Bradley, helped land the fish.

“He landed it around 3:15 p.m., we had to be out of the park by 4,’’ Cruz messaged. “If you have ever been to Powerton, the warm-water discharge is about a 20-minute walk. So we had to hurry up, take some quick pictures of the fish, then walk back or risk being ticketed by the DNR.’’

Early in the year, Powerton is open 8 a.m.-p.m. and it is quite the hike from the discharge to the gate and parking lot.

FOTW, the celebration of big fish and good stories, runs Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page. The story part or fishing of the moment, such as this one, matters as much as the big fish part, generally.

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