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Creston angler turns 52 fish heads into cash prizes

John Kennedy won $1,000 in gift cards from the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program
John Kennedy is the latest winner from the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program. (Submitted)

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.

“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.

The program 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 spend all my time in my boat with my wife and my dog,” he said. “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 first hand, as all of 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 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.

For more information on the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program, visit

READ MORE: Calgary angler hooks a winner in Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program

Kelsey Yates

About the Author: Kelsey Yates

Kelsey Yates has had a lifelong passion for newspapers and storytelling. Originally from Alberta, she graduated from SAIT Polytechnic's journalism program in 2016.
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