Can you imagine what it would feel like to be bass fishing on a lake knowing there is a bass swimming around in it that, if you catch it, will pay you one million dollars? Jeff Abbott from Winter Springs, Florida had that feeling for eight hours last Saturday. He won the Early Times Whisky "Reel In A Million" contest drawing and had a chance to fish for one million dollars.
On May 31, 2008 Jeff fished J. Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tennessee from 8:00 AM Saturday morning until 4:00 PM that afternoon with pro bass fisherman Kevin Wirth. Earlier in the week Gene Austin, a local bass guide, had caught, tagged an released 25 bass on the lake. He was supervised by the insurance company that underwrote the contest and an Early Times employee. They put each fish out on the lake at least a half mile apart.
One tagged bass was worth the million bucks. Another was worth a fully rigged Triton bass boat. Other prizes were fishing tackle. The plan was the tagged bass would be brought in and the number on its tag corresponded to a folder held by the insurance company rep. He would win whatever was listed in the folder.
The rules allowed either Kevin or Jeff to catch the tagged bass. But no tagged bass were landed. Still, Jeff got an all expense paid trip to Nashville, got to stay at the Opryland Hotel, an amazing place, and got to fish with Kevin Wirth for a day. That is a pretty good prize and Jeff said he was happy and really did not expect to catch a tagged bass.
A Pro Finds Fish
I was fortunate to be one of the two writers observing this event. I drove up on Friday and fished with Kevin that afternoon. On Saturday I spent the morning in the boat with Gene following Kevin and Jeff around the lake, watching them catch bass and taking pictures. That afternoon I got to relax on a pontoon boat while others worked trying to catch a bass.
Kevin amazed me with his ability to locate bass. He said he had fished Percy Priest only one time and that was about 12 years ago, yet we caught about a dozen bass Friday afternoon off several different spots. That told Kevin he had "dialed in" on the bass just from a few hours that morning. I managed to land a largemouth, two spots and a smallmouth bass while fishing with him.
Even more amazing was the next morning. As we followed Kevin and Jeff I pointed out places we had caught fish the day before and we watched the places Kevin fished. Gene had said he released the bass he tagged on typical structure for them. He had released a smallmouth, two spots and the rest largemouth if I remember right.
Every place Kevin had taken me the day before and all the places we saw him fish Saturday morning were places where tagged bass had been released. Even Gene was surprised that Kevin could pick out the best structure so fast on an unfamiliar lake. Pro bass fishermen have an ability, or sixth sense, about finding bass that I will never have.
Jeff does not fish for bass, he is a saltwater fisherman, but Kevin taught him so well he caught dozens of bass. We watched him land his first bass ever that morning. By the end of the day he landed one over five pounds, a good fish for anyone, much less someone fishing for bass for the first time.
Early Times "Filled To The Gills" Contest
Early Times will sponsor this contest next year. Watch their web site for it and you might be lucky angler fishing for a million dollar bass. In the mean time they have a "Filled To The Gills" contest where you guess the number of Mann’s baits in a Triton boat. The prize in this contest is a Triton VT 17 bass boat.
If you are a legal resident of the US and of legal drinking age you can enter the contest one time a day. You have until July 31, 2008 to get your entries in. If there are more than one correct guess on the number of baits a winner will be drawn from all correct answers. If no one gets it right the closest guess will win. There are also other prizes in this contest.