If you are planning to fish Raystown Lake, Foster Joseph Sayers Lake, Penns Creek or any of five other selected waterways around the state of Pennsylvania between now and July 14, you might want to take few minutes to go online and register for the special "Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?" promotion sponsored by Cabela's in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Doing so could give you a chance to catch a fish worth a million bucks - or more.
The contest is a national event that officially started on May 14 and runs through July 14. More than 1,000 fish were tagged and released in 67 selected waters in 19 states that have Cabela's retail stores. One of those tagged fish will potentially be the grand-prize winner, which could pay the lucky angler who catches it from $100,000 to more than $1 million, depending on when and how the fish qualifies. Additional prizes include a $10,000 Cabela's shopping spree, "First in State" prize packages worth about $900 each, and a prize pool of merchandise prizes with a total value of $47,000.
Complete rules, prize information and angler registration are available at the websites of Cabela's (www.cabelas.com) and the PFBC (www.fishandboat.com). It is most important to remember that an angler must be registered in the contest before the fish is caught to be eligible for any prizes during the contest.
From a practical standpoint, this promotion offers a whole lot of sizzle and very little steak. First, if someone does claim the million-dollar grand prize, it will be in the form of an annuity that will be dribbled out at a meager $20,000 a year for 50 years. At that rate, not many folks would be able to call the boss and quit their regular job.
And if the number of tagged fish released is about equal in each of the eligible waters throughout the country, that shakes out to about 15 fish per waterway. And only one fish in just one body of water has the potential to be worth a million bucks - at least that is if I'm understanding the rules correctly, which are only slightly less complicated than the Federal tax code. I'm no statistician, but I would say the odds are better that someone could be struck by lightning, hit by a meteorite and win the lottery all on the same day rather than catch the grand-prize fish in this deal. But if you do fish any of the waters included in the contest, you might want to take a minute to register - just in case.
Here are the eight Pennsylvania waters included in the "Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?" contest and the species of fish that have been tagged there. Raystown Lake, an 8,000-acre lake in Huntingdon County, will have tagged largemouth bass and walleye. Foster Joseph Sayers Lake, a 1,730-acre reservoir located in Bald Eagle Creek State Park in Centre County, will have tagged largemouth and smallmouth bass. Penns Creek, which begins in Centre County and flows through Mifflin and Union counties before joining the Susquehanna River in Snyder County, will have tagged rainbow trout. Lake Arthur, a 3,200-acre lake located within Moraine State Park in Butler County, will have tagged largemouth bass and walleye. The Emsworth Pool of the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh will have tagged smallmouth bass. The 3,300-acre Presque Isle Bay in Presque Isle State Park in Erie County will have tagged largemouth bass. Lake Nockamixon, a 1,450-acre lake located within Nockamixon State Park in Bucks County, will have tagged largemouth bass. Lake Wallenpaupack, a 5,700-acre lake located in Pike and Wayne counties, will have tagged smallmouth bass and walleye.
Now you might have noticed, as I did, that on seven of the eight waters in the contest, the target species is largemouth bass, smallmouth bass or both, yet bass season on all those waters does not open for almost another month. Furthermore, according to current fishing regulations, no fishing tournaments for bass are permitted on any waters in Pennsylvania during 2011 from April 16 through June 17, but bass fishing is permitted during that window as long as any bass caught is immediately released.
Anglers catching a tagged fish need only remove the tag and then release the fish to qualify for any contest prizes, so there should be no problem complying with the laws on an individual basis. In the bigger picture, however, "Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?" apparently doesn't qualify as a fishing tournament in the eyes of the PFBC even though it has the potential to put many times more anglers on the water targeting bass during the so-called closed season than conventional bass tournaments ever could here in Pennsylvania.
Couldn't have anything to do with the money, could it?