The lifestyle of the Kootenays draws people from around the province and even Canada to make this part of their world home.
The love of snow, dirt, trees, mountains and lakes is something that most Nelsonites have in common, but there is a hidden gem below the waters of Kootenay Lake that many don’t know about.
“From our perspective when you’re out there and you’re on that water and those mountain peeks are breaking through the clouds and you can see the ceiling and it’s pretty amazing,” said Jim Hoey, host and producer of The Dimestore Fishermen. “It’s an amazing feeling. We certainly want to encourage anyone who lives in the Kootenays to experience Kootenay Lake themselves. It’s a resource that’s right there and it’s one of a kind.”
Hoey and his crew were invited and hosted by local fishermen and owner of Reel Adventures Fishing, Kerry Reed to film a feature episode of what Hoey describes as a “Canadian documentary program” in Nelson.
“It was a fantastic experience for so many reasons,” said Hoey. “It’s a city with a wonderful amount of heritage. Our hosts – Reel Adventures Fishing and Kerry Reed – were absolutely wonderful. Kerry is a fantastic ambassador for his community. Him and his wife Christy hosted us and they did a great job introducing us to the city and really showing us around and making us feel at home.”
Reed – who writes a fishing column for the Star – said the experience despite being a bit exhausting was very exciting.
“It was tiring,” he said. “I didn’t realize how most of the time they deal with the community or the chamber of commerce or the city. They’ll have a group that’s looking after them, but I took it on on my own and between me and my wife we looked after them from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. when we dropped them off at night after dinner. It was very exciting though. I learned a lot about other communities and how our community compares to other places.”
The Dimestore Fishermen is going into it’s 14th season of production. They travel across Canada from the end of April until the middle of October.
“We’re travelling through the spring, summer and fall all over Canada to produce our program,” said Hoey. “It’s something where we do try to explore the cultural, historical and recreational aspects of the Canadian communities that we visit.”
Even though the theme of the show is fishing, the crew spends nearly as much time in the community as they do on the water.
“Something that I’d love to mention is when we were moving around in the community so many people were very supportive and more than willing to give us some information or tell us their stories, that was some thing that we call the ‘spirit’ here at the show and it was very much evident when we were there,” said Hoey.
During the five days and six nights the group learned about the history of the Hume Hotel and the role of the hockey community in Nelson.
“We learned about it’s history and the incredible story of the Patrick family and all of the pioneer families that were there and what they meant to the long term of the city and how it developed,” said Hoey.
But of course, the episode isn’t a history lesson for the rest of Canada, it also features a lot of great fishing.
Mayor John Dooley was able to go out on Kootenay Lake with the crew during one day.
“He’s a wonderful ambassador and clearly a wonderful person in his community,” said Hoey.
The group was also catching some impressive Gerrard rainbow trout – a strain that is not commonly found in many places in Canada.
“I think that catching an 18.5 pound Gerrard rainbow trout for one of crew members was pretty exciting,” said Hoey. “Really to see the frequency of fish that we saw that were big category fish was really something special.”
For the crew of The Dimestore Fishermen the experience of fishing on Kootenay lake is “other worldly.”
“For Gerrard rainbow trout to grow to be sizes and to be as healthy a fishery as it is and as well managed as it is by the natural resources people that are there, it’s a fantastic fishery and watershed,” said Hoey.
While being featured on the program great exposure for Nelson and for fishing on Kootenay Lake, there may be concern of over population and keen fishermen coming from all over to flood the lake, but Reed said it’s not a major concern.
“In the long run it could be a bad thing to draw too many people here,” said Reed. “But getting the exposure for the sport is great. The ministry is trying to promote fishing and get new people involved in fishing but there is always the risk that over population could deplete the stocks.”
Reed said because the fishing season in Nelson runs through the winter and into the spring, and because the lake is so cold, he doesn’t expect there to be a surge in boats packed with fishermen.
“Because Kootenay Lake is such a cold lake we don’t even really have a lot of power boaters out there in the summer so we’re lucky that way and the best fishing is from now through out the winter and the spring,” said Reed. “A lot of people don’t want to travel at that time of year anyways so I don’t think it’s going to get too too busy that we can’t sustain it.”
In addition to highlighting the fishing on Kootenay Lake, Reed hopes that The Dimestore Fishermen will show the diversity of activities offered in Nelson.
“They didn’t realize there was way more opportunities to do things out there,” said Reed. “Most people come out here just for the skiing or the mountain biking, they didn’t realize that you can ski, go mountain biking, hiking, camping and fishing. Nelson has everything. It was good to see we’re opening some eyes out there. I’m hoping it will draw people here for fishing. It will highlight Nelson for everything and show people that there’s a lot more out there than just one specific thing.”
Reed and Hoey are working on the possibility of a public viewing of the feature episode in January when it airs.
A date has not been selected but Hoey said, “from our perspective any time that we can be in a community and have the ability to really see the response of people in the community when first seeing the feature episode, it’s always special, so from that perspective it’s something we’d very much like to do.”