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Albertan lands 350-pound sturgeon while kayak fishing in B.C.

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -

A Lethbridge man is celebrating the catch of a lifetime after he successfully hooked a 2.6 metre (8'6") long sturgeon weighing an estimated 159 kilograms (350 lbs).

Not only did Braeden Rouse hook the giant fish, he managed to pull it to shore.

Rouse is a roofer currently working in B.C. in the Penticton area.

"Roofing closes down in Alberta for the winter because of the cold weather, so we came out here so we could work during the cold weather," he explained.

He and his girlfriend Sidney Kozelenko took a three-hour drive from Penticton to a fishing spot on the Fraser River on Saturday.

"We had the weekend off, so we decided to go try our luck," Rouse said.

His battle with the monster sturgeon lasted half an hour.

"I knew it was big," he explained. "You can tell it's big because when you go to pull, it won't move… like, it won't budge, and it'll actually start running.

"As soon as it started running, I'm like, 'Okay, I need to hop in my kayak.'"

As Rouse battled with the fish in his kayak, Kozelenko stood at the shore taking a video.

"He's caught a lot of sturgeon before so it was we weren't sure how the size was at the beginning," she explained. "So I didn't start the video until he realized all if a sudden it was a really big one."

Rouse says he was being pulled all around the river by the fish, which started going downstream, so Kozelenko hopped in her boat and paddled after him.

"The surgeon started pulling me upstream, which is interesting,"Rouse said. "I battled him for about 25 minutes on river, and then we finally tired the fish out."

"We're trying to figure out 'How do we get to shore?' … So we had some ropes on our boats, luckily, so Sidney tied the rope to her boat and she paddled as I was battling the fish. She paddled to shore and then pulled me in the rest of the way."

"It was pretty exhilarating," Kozelenko added.

Rouse said he got out of the kayak and finished his fight.  

"When you could see the head, the head of the fish was so big – it was bigger than my body! I'm not a big guy, but the thing was way bigger than me. That's for sure."

Kozelenko says she was in shock when they got the fish to shore.

"I was actually in complete awe and amazement," she said. "It was way bigger in person than it is in any video or picture – just the size of its head, it's double the width of how wide I am."

Rouse said it's not his first time fishing for sturgeon in a kayak.

"I've had lots of people telling me I'm crazy. And they're like, 'if you hook onto a big one, you're in for a ride.'"

"It finally happened, and I'm super excited. And it was nerve wracking, but it was exciting."

CATCH AND RELEASE

After snapping a photo or two of the fish, Rouse and Kozelenko released it back into the water.

"The release is so rewarding," Rouse said "The fish just gracefully swims away."

Rouse and Kozelenko will soon be heading back to Lethbridge and say they have plans to continue fishing throughout southern Alberta this summer.

"Pretty much all we do is work and fish," Kozelenko said.

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