The 19th Annual Vanity Cup fishing tournament took place this past weekend, September 29th and 30th, and history was made! Right off the bat, I have to fess up that I have a not-so-hidden agenda in writing this article. I happen to know the record-setters. In fact, although sometimes he doesn’t like to admit it, I happen to have blood-relations with one of the record setters. With a total tournament weight of 65.4 lbs, Terry Magel and Perry Pugh (MY DAD, Whoop, Whoop!) not only came in 1st place, they set a tournament record!
This tournament is a BIG DEAL around the Pugh household. It seems like every year the suspense builds up around Vanity time. I’ve never fished it myself, but I can admit that there have been times where my nerves have gone crazy as if I was the one fishing it while waiting for a phone call from my dad after each day of the tournament, hoping he did well. I know this may sound a little ridiculous to some people, but in this particular tournament, the stakes are fairly steep!
To give a little bit of background information about the Vanity Cup fishing tournament, it is held in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, well-known for its world-class walleye and northern pike fishing. The waters of the Nipawin Regional Park currently hold the World Walleye Ice Fishing Record and the Saskatchewan Walleye Record. In fact, the last four consecutive times that the Saskatchewan Walleye Record has been broken, it was fish caught in this area. The Saskatchewan River runs through the park and leads to Tobin Lake. Fishing is done on both the river and the lake.
For the past 19 years, experienced professional fishermen/women have come together on these waters to compete against one another and prove that they are the best of the best. Teams of two pay $1,000 entry fee and fish for a piece of the $150,000 prize money up for grabs. Space is limited to fish in this tournament; there are only spots for 160 teams and it sells out every year. There’s even a waitlist of teams lined up in case of a drop-out. It is a two day tournament, with eight hours each day allotted for fishing time. Each team is put into a flight (group) which has a specific time to be on the water and a specific time to be in the weigh-in area and you best not be late for weigh-ins! There are strict rules in most competitive fishing tournaments, but to get penalized in the Vanity Cup really hurts with the amount of money and remarkable prizes on the line. The first place team pockets $50,000, second place $40,000, third place $10,000 and so on. There is also money to be won for the biggest walleye caught each day and for the top placing team in a Lund boat.
Boundaries are set to indicate where fishermen/women are allowed to fish for tournament catches. It is a strictly Walleye, Sauger, and Saugeye tournament. Each team can weigh-in five fish per day. Only two of those five fish can be over 70 cm in length and the other three must be under 55 cm. No fish in the “red zone”, between 55-70 cm, can be weighed in. Your total weight over the course of the two days determines your placing in the tournament. All fish must be alive and in good enough condition to swim away after weigh-ins. Failure to comply with any of the rules set out for the tournament results in penalization (typically a reduction from your day weight), eligibility for certain prizes taken away or disqualification from the tournament. All that in a nutshell is the Vanity Cup!
Now back to bragging up my old man! He’s managed to encircle his life around three major things, those being family, work and fishing. Maintaining the time commitment necessary for those three things leaves him with little to no free time to explore anything else. There have been plenty of times where I'm baffled as to how he keeps up with everything. It is extremely rare for him to have a whole week without needing to travel somewhere for work, but somehow he always manages to get to whatever lake he needs to be at for a fishing tournament. It doesn’t matter if he has to work all day and drive through the night. Just last week, when he was “pre-fishing” for the Vanity Cup, in one day he drove from Nipawin to the Saskatoon airport, flew to Edmonton for meetings all day, flew back to Saskatoon and then drove back Nipawin, just so he could be up at 5am the next morning to get on the water. He even managed to buy me a steak when he was in Saskatoon for the second time that day before he drove back to Nipawin. Over the years, my mom has become a broken record, constantly saying “Slooow down Pugg!”, but he doesn’t listen. Never has, never will.
Since I was young, he has been a member of the Saskatchewan Walleye Trail and fished tournaments in the spring, summer and fall months. He’s been fishing the Vanity Cup for 18 years now and doing well in this tournament is something he hopes for every year. It only took him close to two decades to do it, but he finally got there and won the whole the thing, alongside his friend and fishing partner for the tournament, Terry Magel. It wasn’t enough for them to win the tournament though. For those of you who know Per (my dad), I know you would back me up when I say that he never does anything half-assed. If he was going to win the Vanity, he was going to do it with record-setting weight! Their total weight of 65.4 lbs is the highest weight ever recorded in the Vanity Cup, which unquestionably gave them a first place finish in the tournament. If you recall in my blurb about the tournament, that’s 50,000 big ones in their pocket! Per also caught the biggest walleye of the tournament at 15.15 lbs, bringing in $1,449.00 for biggest catch of day on day two of the tournament for the team. In addition, as both Magel and my dad are Lund boat owners, they were undoubtedly in a Lund fishing boat for the tournament which made them the top placing team in a Lund boat, adding another $2,500.00 to their prize winnings. I don’t know about you, but I would say that is a pretty good weekend for the old boys!
All in all, I would like to say congratulations to both Terry Magel and Perry Pugh! People can argue all they want that fishing isn’t a sport, but until they know how much time, money, energy, knowledge, decision-making, and dedication goes into fishing a tournament like the Vanity Cup, their words are irrelevant. So proud of both of you! Enjoy this week, celebrate, and revel in your glory, because next week you need to start thinking about how you’re going to defend your title next year at the 20th Annual Vanity Cup where prize money is going to be doubled with a $2,000 entry fee!
One last thing, just for old time sake: Now you can finally “SLOOOW DOWN Pugg!”
Nipawin Journal coverage: Record weights caught at Vanity Cup by Greg Wiseman