When the fishing ended more than 20 bass had been caught. The only question remaining was whether or not one of the bass held a lucky tag that would be worth a million dollars to Debra Nicholson of French Lick, Indiana.
Nicholson won the all expenses paid prize trip to Central Florida by submitting a photo of herself making her best “fish face” and submitting it to the Early Times Facebook page. Twenty finalist were chosen before Nicholson was awarded the grand prize, the opportunity to fish for a million dollar bass on October 15, 2011.
The “Reel in a Million” fishing promotion has been conducted for several years by Early Times Kentucky Whisky. This was the first year the contest came to Florida.
“This year we’re bringing our winner to Florida for a once in a lifetime opportunity to catch a fish that could be worth a million dollars,” said Therese McGuire, brand manager for Early Times Kentucky Whisky. “Not only is there a million dollars on the line, but this is the only fishing promotion we know of where a consumer will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a world class angler like Kevin Wirth.”
Wirth is a pro bass angler from Kentucky assigned to help the contest winner catch the big money bass. Wirth prefished the Central Florida lakes the day before the contest to develop a strategy for the Saturday event.
Nicholson could bring along a friend. She chose Joan Davis, a member of the Indiana Bassin’ Gals to be her fishing partner. According to the rules of the contest any of the three anglers could catch a tagged bass, but the winning money would go to Nicholson.
The fishing took place on the Butler Chain of Lakes near Orlando. Specifically, Lake Louise, Lake Butler, and Lake Palmer were all used in the contest. Max Rhodes, Director of Fishing with SCA Promotions, fished with a local guide for several days before the event. The pair caught, tagged and released 40 legal sized bass to set up the event. Max commented, “It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.” If any of the tagged bass were caught in seven hours of fishing the $1,000,000 purse would be awarded to Nicholson.
The two gals from Indiana and pro angler Wirth met at the dock for a 9:00 departure. The excitement level was high as they boarded Wirth’s Triton Bass Boat. Nicholson comment before boarding the boat, “I am really excited and I feel like I am going to catch at least one bass.”
A media boat was loaded up to follow the anglers and record the action. It included Vance McCullough, writer/producer, AnglersChannel.com, who shot some great video of the event.
Fishing had been slow on the prefishing day so Wirth decided his strategy would be to cover a lot of water with a lot of different lures. Nicholson scored first, but the fish was undersized. Wirth and Davis added fish along the way, so everyone caught fish during the day.
The anglers were dedicated to the task, not even taking a break for lunch. The media boat brought sandwiches but the anglers did not stop fishing. They would take a bite and just keep casting.
When the Triton pulled up to the dock at the end of the day, the always smiling Nicholson looked a little red on the forehead and cheeks. She was going to take a little Florida sunshine home to Indiana. Davis, a little tired from a long day of fishing said she had a wonderful time. Both gals took a position on the deck and Wirth started pulling bass out of the livewell. Six keeper bass were shown, but none held the lucky tag that would have made Nicholson a millionaire.
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