Maple Creek News
Willy Duncan and Richard Whyte have officially earned their place.
Duncan, who lives in Nipawin (his father John lives in Maple Creek), and Whyte, who lives in Shaunavon, just won the Nipawin Vanity Cup Walleye Tournament, held every year at Tobin Lake.
And for a pair of fish-loving friends that has competed together for 11 years simply for the joy of it, they now have 108,000 reasons to see themselves as more than just avid fans of the sport.
“To win this one, it’s just so surreal,” Duncan told the News-Times this week. “I can’t believe I’m not crying talking to you, because I was balling when we won.
“I’ve been fishing in tournaments for 23 years or so — and I’m a good fisherman, but in no way do I consider myself a pro.”
The three-day tournament is held each year in Duncan’s own backyard in a spot world renowned for its walleye and pike fishing. The competition actually takes place over and 80-kilometre stretch of river portions that spill into the lake, with 160 teams of two taking part.
The second- and third-place teams win a new boat, while the winning duo walks away with a cheque for $100,000. And with third-place finishes on each of the first two individual days, Duncan and Whyte were already up $8,000 heading into the third and final day.
“After day one we were in third place, so we knew we had a really good shot at it,” Whyte said. “When you get up that close, you want to finish — but that’s the problem with tournament fishing, it’s always the second day (that matters most).
“The weights go down, and it’s harder to catch fish because everyone has already caught fish, kept them and turned them in.”
Of course, the duo didn’t falter at all on that second day, finishing third for the day again. In fact, it took a one-pound penalty to drop them out of second spot.
When you’ve already finished in the top-three for two straight days at a tourney like the Vanity Cup, it would take something nearly catastrophic to keep that team off the podium for the overall prize.
“You’re wanting win, obviously,” Duncan said. “But to actually win it? Holy crap. Our names are on that trophy forever. To have other fisherman that we know and respect, come up to us … and tell us we deserve it, that means more than anything.”
Duncan has actually had quite a year so far, having already won a young anglers’ tournament in June with his two boys, which saw them leave with a brand new boat. And it’s times like those with his kids, or this most recent win with his longtime friend that really stick out in Duncan’s mind. A big cash prize is obviously a welcome addition, but these two would be out there every year regardless.
“The money is nice, but if I were to make a five- or 10-point list of the things that are so great about winning, the money would be at the bottom,” Duncan said, adding that just knowing they will see their names on the list of past winners each year is something they very much look forward to.
As other multi-winners have learned in the past, that first win at the Vanity tends to be a bit of a blur. From doing interviews and taking a lie-detector test, to being whisked onto the stage for trophy and cheque presentations, there isn’t a lot of time to stop and enjoy the moment.
“It’s been pretty much a whirlwind,” said Whyte. “It was probably four days afterward before it sunk in.
“Personally, I was just extremely happy; we fished our fish, had a good time, and we didn’t lose any fish, I guess was the biggest thing.”
As for what the pair plans to do with their winnings, there isn’t a whole bunch mapped out just yet. Both men are off this week on separate trips with friends or family, but those were already booked and paid for.
Apparently, when the money isn’t the most important thing, it isn’t as easy to spend. But, surely, they’ll find some help in that department.
“I don’t really have plans for it yet — I guess whatever my wife tells me,” joked Whyte.”
Above: Willy Duncan and Richard received a trophy and a cheque for $100,000 after winning the Nipawin Vanity Cup Walleye Tournament.