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Enforcement keeping sharp eye on holiday boating crowd

By Steve Vantreese

Law enforcement afloat is out there in strength this holiday weekend in the interest of keeping it safe for the Memorial Day surge in boating on our lakes and rivers.

Area Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officers during the long holiday weekend, today through Monday, will concentrate on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley on what's typically the first of three peak boating periods of the year.

Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays usually muster much of the boating traffic that only turns out for special occasions.

Sgt. Garry Clark, 1st District supervisor for KDFWR law enforcement, said officers would patrol the lakes in heavier than typical numbers, especially to be vigilant for boat operation that would suggest impaired skippers.

Clark said focal points of officers would be to enforce laws against BUI â “ boating under the influence. Officers will keep a sharp eye for erratic boat operators who may be intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.

Another emphasis for enforcement officers will be focused on Kentucky's personal flotation device statutes. That is, state law requires that kids under age 12 must wear a life jacket when they are in a moving boat. Regulations also require that a life jacket must be on board for each of others in a boat.

Safety officials urge all boaters to not only have life jackets aboard, but to wear them when on the water. That was the message of the just-completed National Boating Safety Week: No matter how well you swim, a life jacket worn could be a matter of life or death in the event of an accident.

Safety statistics indicate that drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents, and overwhelmingly those who die in boating accidents are boat operators and/or passengers who are not wearing life jackets.

Statistics also show a strong correlation between boating accidents and alcohol use.

A Kentucky Lake fatality almost exactly a year ago, however, was another sort of accident, one in which no link to alcohol was seen and in which drowning was not the cause of death.

A Jackson, Mo., man was killed when the boat in which he was riding went between piers and hit the structure of Eggner Ferry Bridge. The outboard motor of the speeding boat struck an unyielding bridge support, flipped back and upward, pivoting into the craft. The motor hit and fatally injured the man in the passenger seat.

n Now in effect, those who seek to take in-person boater education courses in Kentucky must register in advance on-line. The registration is available at the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov under "Boat" and "Boater Education" tabs.

The KDFWR boater education course also can be taken on-line.

n Paducahan Sam Boss crankbaited Kentucky Lake drop-offs for post-spawn fish to win a recent Walmart Bass Fishing League/LBL Division tournament fished out of Kenlake Marina at Aurora.

Boss topped all the Pro Division contenders with a five-bass limit sack weighing 21 pounds, 11 ounces to pocket more than $4,200 for the first-place finish. His victory came with less than a pound of bass weight over the pro runner-up, Kevin Meunier of Lamar, Ind., whose own limit weighed 20-13.

Boss pulled sexy chartreuse-colored Strike King Pro Model 6XD crankbaits over ledges in 15-18 feet of water. He said he fished three locations where he had found fish during practice, effectively catching bass from schools he contacted on two of those open water ledges.

Daniel Fink of Benton was third with a limit weighing 20-1, while another Benton angler, Craig Hipsher was fourth with a limit of 19-11.

Jared McGinnis of Auburn, Ky., won in the Co-Angler Division, catching a five-bass limit weighing 18-10. David Loyall of Louisville was second with 17-10, and Stephen Barga of Benton was third among co-anglers with a 17-3 limit.

n Those who applied for quota elk hunting permits in Kentucky this autumn can find out if they were drawn for hunts by going to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources website, www.fw.ky.gov and clicking on the "Elk Hunt Draw Results" tab.

A total of 1,000 general hunt permits and 10 youth permits are being issued among 39,935 applicants who entered 69,191 applications for hunts.

To check to see if one was successful, an applicant must enter his or her 19-digit confirmation number or Social Security number and date of birth on the website.

n Catches were light, but the Wingo fishing team of DeWayne and Reed McCord was near the top of the heap when Crappie USA recently held its qualifying tournament on Cave Run Lake near Morehead.

The McCords were runners-up in the Semi-Pro Division with 3.45 pounds of crappie culled from 25 fish caught trolling jigs and crankbaits in 20 feet of water.

Winners in the division were Tim and Reba Cleary of Pikeville, who sacked more than 90 fish from which they culled a seven-fish limit weighing 4.22 pounds. They cast jigs over natural cover to fish in 12-18 feet for the first-place catch.

Amateur Division winners Kris and Terry Mann of Mt. Sterling had the heaviest catch of the day, a limit weighing 4.40 pounds.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail outdoors news items to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.

SNbS

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