Southern Alberta couple lands ‘majestic’ big catch

A Lethbridge, Alta., couple has bragging rights after landing a huge catch in B.C. last week.  

Sidney Kozelenko and Braeden Rouse had been on a month-long fishing trip on Vancouver Island — but their biggest catch actually came after the trip was done. 

“We decided to go fishing and apparently our luck was pretty good that weekend,” Kozelenko said. 

Casting a reel from a kayak in Fraser River, Rouse — after about half an hour of struggle — reeled in an estimated 2.6-metre-long sturgeon at around 159 kilograms. 

Sidney Kozelenko and the large sturgeon caught and released in Fraser River, B.C. (Supplied by Sidney Kozelenko )

The roofer, who is currently working in B.C., has been fishing since he was four years old. 

“It was pretty amazing. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was definitely unexpected, that’s for sure,” he said. 

“I was hoping for a big one, but the way it all works out ended up being a lot more exciting than I ever anticipated.” 

Kozelenko said they released the fish after and felt humbled by the experience. 

“You don’t really realize how big they are and how majestic they are until you’re right up next to it, especially one this big. It almost just takes your breath away,” she said. 

Sturgeon population recovering

Sturgeons are some of the largest fish in the world, said Doug Whiteside, associate professor of conservation medicine at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. He estimated the sturgeon reeled in by Rouse is about 50 or 60 years old. 

“Over that lifetime, they will actually grow to some amazing lengths. There was a sturgeon that was caught …That was over 11 feet and thought to be the world record holder for a freshwater sturgeon,” he said. 

As sturgeon populations recover from previous overfishing and habitat destruction, bigger sturgeons might be seen more often, Whiteside said. 

“Historically they were used extensively for caviar, and that is really what led them to overexploitation … but now they are trying to make a recovery as people are tuned into their plight.”

As for Kozelenko and Rouse, they plan to return to Fraser River to continue fishing. 

“We’ll definitely be trying to beat our record any time we can,” Kozelenko said. 

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