'We lucked out today': Sisters win Fish for Freedom

NIPAWIN — This year’s Fish for Freedom tournament was won by a duo of sisters.

Fish for Freedom is a ladies fishing tournament that serves to raise money for the Twin Lakes Trailblazer Snowmobile Club.

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This year, a portion of the revenue generated by the tournament was also donated to North East Outreach and Support Services.

“We always try to give back to a charity that is well deserving and in need and help.” said Josie Fitzpatrick, co-coordinator of the tournament. “They were definitely in need with the opening of their new facility.”

Fitzpatrick said she feels the tournament was successful, with 93 teams competing. This was an increase from 87 teams.

Of the two winners, Heather West is from Saskatoon, while her Deb Jeffers is from Prince Albert. They had assistance from their captain, Heather’s husband, Kyle West.

This was Heather’s second tournament, having had her first on Codette Lake. At the time she swore she would never do one again because of the weather. This was Deb’s first ever tournament. This was the first time they won the tournament.

Despite being new to the competitive scene, the duo fished for most of their adult life.

“We just knew about the tournament and I thought, ‘Why don’t we fish it? I want to fish it’,” Heather said.

The only big fish of the tournament was caught by Heather, at 72.4 centimeters. To count as a “big fish”, it has to be over 70 centimeters.

“We invited our mom along today, it was very cloudy,” Deb said. “We lost our mom five years ago but my sister said, ‘Nope, mom’s with us. We need some sunshine.’ Well it shined for a little bit. Before you know it she had our fish.”

According to Deb, since they fish for fun, rather than competitively, they didn’t expect to win.

“Just the way fish has been for the last month, it has been horrible with the dirty water,” Heather said. “Yeah, we lucked out today.”

The team found success at the Eagles Nest and White Rock. For bait, the duo used leeches.

They said their strategy was, “Don’t give up, keep a positive attitude with such terrible weather, and we did it at the very end.”

“I just want to thank my sister for asking me and my brother-in-law for taking us and being the captain, and giving me that opportunity,” Deb said.

Next year the two intend to return for a chance at keeping their title.

“We’re hooked,” Heather said.

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