‘Castin’ for Cash’ set to go

If the success anglers have had during pre-fishing is any indication, it’s going to take a couple of big bags of fish to cop the title at the annual “Castin’ for Cash” bass derby on Lake Despair this weekend, tournament organizer Bill Godin predicted Tuesday.
Godin, an avid angler in his own right, said the lake has been bustling with boats of late—and rumour has it some big fish have been biting.
“Most guys are doing pretty good,” said Godin, owner/operator of Lake Despair Lodge and founder of the tournament, now in its fifth year. “I’m anticipating bigger weights than last year and last year the weights were pretty good.”
Devlin’s Greg Swire and Don Copenace of Nestor Falls won the title last July, weighing in a two-day total of 26.83 pounds.
Devlin’s Paul Jewiss and Fort Frances angler Mike Graham were second (25.78 pounds) while Ralph Galusha and Pat Steele, both of Devlin, finished third (24.80 pounds).
A dozen teams reeled in more than 20 pounds at last year’s “Castin’ for Cash,” but Godin, who is no stranger to the Lake Despair fishery, doesn’t think those weights will do it this time around.
“I’m anticipating over 30 pounds it’s going to take to win it,” he said. “I’m hearing there’s some big fish.”
The anglers, on the other hand, aren’t so sure.
Mike Mihichuk of Fort Frances, who finished 14th overall last year with partner Darren Ward, said any team that can reel in 30 pounds should be a lock to hoist the trophy.
“I think a couple of 15-pound bags will do it,” Mihichuk said. “You probably won’t even need that.”
Jewiss, who’s been out pre-fishing three times so far, said he expects the winning weight to be closer to 21 pounds, but noted if the conditions stabilize, the anglers’ bounties could be substantial.
“That’s the thing, you never know,” he remarked. “If the weather straightens out, it might get really good.
“Some days it’s better than others up there,” Jewiss added. “There’s some big fish in there, it’s just hard to get five of them.”
The 65-team field—the largest in the event’s brief history—includes dozens of anglers who also are slated to compete in the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship on July 21-23.
“Castin’ for Cash” is a good warm-up for the FFCBC, which attracts anglers from across North America and boasts a $50,000 first-prize, Godin said.
“It gives everybody a little bit of practice,” he noted.
“It gets you out there thinking,” echoed Jewiss. “It’s a different lake so there are different techniques and different things, but in gets you into the mood.
“You get the competitive juices flowing at this tournament,” he enthused. “It gets you sort of pumped, it gets you excited—and that’s a good thing.”
“Castin’ for Cash” gets underway Saturday at 8 a.m. and wraps up Sunday, with anglers off the lake by 4 p.m. and the final weigh-in slated shortly after that.
Lake Despair Lodge is located at the end of Highway 613.
More than $14,000 in cash prizes will be awarded at the tournament, with the top 15 teams all taking home cheques. The top prize is $5,000 again this year.
The weekend also features a Saturday fish fry and beer gardens (open both nights), and Godin said everybody is welcome to join in the fun.
The evening festivities are well worth the drive to Lake Despair, both Mihichuk and Jewiss agreed.
“It’s a really well put-on event,” Jewiss said. “Bill and [his wife Nellie] Godin do a really, really good job of it.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” echoed Mihichuk.
Godin said if anyone is interested in lending a hand, volunteers are always needed to assist with the daily weigh-ins.