“A decade at Lake Despair” might sound like the title of an over-the-top drama, but in truth, the only drama has had to do with angling.
The “Castin’ for Cash” tournament held at Lake Despair Lodge in Devlin is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a full field of 65 teams (and 11 more on the waiting list as of Monday) set to hit the lake this Friday (July 9) for the two-day tournament.
While he would be interested in expanding the tournament beyond 65 teams, organizer Bill Godin, who owns the lodge along with wife, Nellie, acknowledged it’s just not a feasible option.
“We’d love to let everybody in but we don’t have enough room out here for that many teams,” he reasoned.
“With the size of the lake, 65 is pretty much the maximum we can take.”
A full tournament means financial strength, as well. As such, there’s a little bit of extra payback going on this year as the payouts for some positions have been boosted from years past.
The purse sits at about $18,000 for the year’s event.
“We’ve upped the prize money this year a little bit,” said Godin.
“It’s still $5,000 [for] first place, but our payouts, we pay back to 15 places, and we’ve upped that payout a little bit.”
Godin noted that in addition to the customary prizes for the big fish and hidden weight, there also are awards for both the top male-female team as well as for the top team with an angler under the age of 15.
“We usually get about eight teams with an angler under 15,” he said.
“We [also] get a few male-female teams,” he added. “They seem to get along okay.
“We haven’t had any divorces it over it yet,” he joked.
Godin conceded Mother Nature historically hasn’t co-operated with the tournament in past years, but credited the roughly 50 volunteers he has each year with being able to roll with any changes brought about by unfortunate weather conditions.
“It’s up and down weather in the past,” he remarked. “We always seem to hit some bad weather during the tournament, but everything seems to still go well.
“Our volunteers are so good to help out with everything and when that kind of stuff happens, they all pitch in and get done what needs to be done.
“With all our campers and cabin owners that help out so much, and friends and family, it’s a good deal,” he enthused.
The tournament began simply enough as Godin felt it was worth tossing another tournament into the ring of events in Northwestern Ontario.
The first year (in 2001) saw a field of 50 teams.
“I fish all the tournaments, so we just decided one year that we were going to hold one back here,” Godin recalled. “A few people had mentioned to me we should have one here and we just decided to do it.”
Godin admitted the first couple of years were somewhat difficult to get organized, but once everything came together, it became simpler to host the tournament annually.
“It was kind of tough just trying to figure out everything, and get everything in place where it comes together for the next year,” he pointed out.
“Lionel Robert used to be the emcee and then he passed away,” Godin added. “Mark Allen took over and he’s been doing a great job.
“Everybody knows him here and enjoys having him up on the stage.”
The tournament primarily is made up of teams from Northwestern Ontario or International Falls, but there is a small contingent of three teams from Minneapolis.
As well, word has spread as far as Indiana. A team from the Hoosier State is slated to make its debut appearance this year.
“Ten years have gone by already, hard to believe,” Godin reminisced.
“It’s always a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of work, but with all the volunteers, it all runs pretty smooth,” he noted.
“We just wanted to thank our sponsors again, too, for making it all come together.
“Every little bit helps.”