Cain, Howard eke out victory ‘Castin’ for Cash’ outcome went down to the wire

Despite being at least a couple of inches taller than anybody else on stage, Jason Cain was on the tips of his toes, peering down anxiously at the weigh scale, as Mark Wilson and Glenn Ward measured their bounty on the final day of this year’s “Castin’ for Cash” bass tournament at Lake Despair Lodge.
Having already weighed in a two-day total of 24.82 pounds, Cain and partner Wayne Howard were in the lead—poised to claim their first tournament victory.
But Wilson and Ward—the obvious crowd favourites—needed just 11.70 pounds to spoil their party.
They had just showcased their catch and everybody knew it was going to be close—too close to call.
The scales bounced back and forth a bit and then stopped—finally—at 11.26 pounds.
The crowd groaned. Cain smiled.
“We knew they had to have a pretty big bag to do it,” Cain said yesterday. “When it popped up the weight, I knew they didn’t have it. It was pretty nice to see that.”
With more than 25 years of guiding experience between them, Cain and Howard certainly are no strangers to Lake Despair, Footprint Lake, and Jackfish Lake—the three bodies of water anglers can fish in the “Castin’ for Cash” tournament.
In fact, the duo was back on the water Monday, guiding visitors to the same spots they had trolled over the weekend. They even caught on to a few techniques they wished they’d picked up last week, Cain said.
Not that what they did Saturday and Sunday didn’t work. It just took a little creativity.
The pair struggled to land fish early on, losing the first 10 that chased their lines on Saturday, and needed to max out their knowledge of the lakes’ many hot-spots to cement their tourney crown.
“We were running and gunning,” Cain said. “We’d catch one fish at a spot and just move on.
“We just kept plugging at ’er.”
Tournament organizer Bill Godin, who also has plenty of experience guiding on Lake Despair, said he figured Cain and Howard were due to top the leaderboard.
“I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before they got ’er,” Godin remarked. “I knew one of these years I’d be presenting the trophy to these guys.”
Cain and Howard reeled in a total of 12.08 pounds on Day One and were the third team to leave the launch area Sunday morning.
Howard said he figured he and Cain would need about a 13-pound bag to take home the tournament hardware—and $5,000 first prize.
“It’s usually tougher the second day,” he reasoned.
That’s about what they brought in. And it was just enough.
The outcome would have been even closer had Wilson and Ward not had two dead fish on the first day of the tournament, when they reeled in the weekend’s biggest bag (13.12 pounds) despite two 0.25-pound penalties.
Because of the soaring temperatures (the mercury hovered around 35 C both days), it was not just finding and catching the fish, but keeping them in good health in the live-wells, that presented quite a challenge for the 65-team field.
As it turned out, those two 0.25-pound penalties cost Wilson and Ward the tournament crown.
“We knew it was going to be close but we didn’t have enough, I guess,” Wilson sighed. “Maybe next year.”
Cain and Howard split a cheque for $5,000 while Wilson and Ward earned $2,500 for their efforts.
Pat Cross, a former “Castin’ for Cash” champion, and partner Steve Ballan finished third, hauling in a two-day total of 22.50 pounds and sharing the $1,500 prize.
Rounding out the top five were Doug/Zack McBride (22.46 pounds) and Karl Wolfe/Paul Visser (21.92 pounds).
A total of eight teams topped 20 pounds over the two-day event.
Dave Evans and Randy Kirk had the big fish on Day One, reeling in a 3.52-pound lunker, while Cain and Howard’s 3.42-pounder was the heaviest bass caught on Sunday.