by Contributor on Monday April 03 2023
John Kennedy has been fishing Kootenay Lake for about 30 years, but never as profitably as this winter, when a bag of frozen fish heads netted him $1,000 in prizes in the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program.
“I finally ran out of room in my freezer,” said the transplanted Calgarian.
Last month, Kennedy entered 52 trout heads in the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program, one from every trout he has landed since October.
KLAIP is a citizen-driven initiative intended to reduce the over-abundance of rainbow and bull trout in the lake and promote the recovery of their main prey, the endangered kokanee salmon. Anglers harvest rainbow and bull trout in the main body of Kootenay Lake and then drop off the heads at local depots to enter a monthly draw.
“We used to come out here in the 1990s to play golf and rent one of the big boats from Jones Boys Boats to go fishing,” said Kennedy. “I was just yearning to come back out here, so in 2016 I semi-retired to Creston.”
These days Kennedy fishes from his boat or the shoreline about 50 times a year.
“I don't golf much anymore,” he said. “I spend all my time in my boat with my wife and my dog. Usually just me and my dog, Roz.”
He still gets excited by every opportunity to fish, even more so when prizes are on the line.
“I put a lot of time in on the lake and I've been following along the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program since its inception,” he said. “It’s finally my turn to win.”
Kennedy has watched the decline of kokanee firsthand, and all his recent catch-and-release kokanee have been under seven pounds. But there are encouraging signs, he said.
“I think the kokanee are coming around again,” he said. “I’ve seen some nice pools of kokanee coming up to the top up near the ferry when I fish up there, big 20-foot circles of kokanee, just hammering the top of the water there. It looks pretty neat.”
A committed angler, Kennedy will sink his winnings into a new fishfinder and an electric downrigger for his boat.
“I have a hand-cranked downrigger that is pretty hard on my arm with a 15-pound ball on it,” he said.
For his prize, Kennedy selected a $500 gift certificate from Jones Boys Boats and a $500 gift certificate from Gill & Gift.
HOW TO ENTER:
Anglers must bring an intact fish head to one of four return depots operated by co-sponsors Balfour Gill & Gift Gas Station, Woodbury Resort, Crawford Bay Market, or Wynndel Foods & Outdoor Gear.
More than 5,470 entries have been submitted so far this season.
All entries are eligible for this year’s grand prize, a 2022 Ford F-150, with the off-road Tremor package, provided by Nelson Ford. A 2022 Polaris side-by-side ATV from Main Jet Motor Sports has already been awarded.
Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program is managed by the local West Arm Outdoors Club with support from B.C. Wildlife Federation, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Ministry of Forests, with the support of local merchants.
The Ministry urges anglers to continue to participate in this program and harvest their catch within quota limits to support the recovery of Kootenay Lake’s kokanee salmon.
More information on the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program: https://bcwf.bc.ca/kootenay-lake-angler-incentive-program/