ANDERSON, S.C. Cameras were still rolling, even after both Mike Golic and Erik Kuselias had long been off Lake Hartwell.
The hosts of ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning (with Kuselias filling in for Mike Greenberg) will be working their entire show from the site of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic on Friday morning, but they wanted to spend a couple hours on Thursday getting to know the water.
Golic has obviously fished before — Kuselias obviously hasn't. There was only one fish caught, and an argument ensued.
"You didn't catch anything," Golic said after he saw Kuselias with a smile that reached all the way across the Bassmaster studio war room, full of video editing machines and stressed out editors.
"I caught it and we have the video to prove it," Kuselias protested, with his guide, professional BASS angler Davy Hite, backing his story. "I caught it and I kissed it. It's my fish. Of course I kissed it. I even named it."
Golic's argument that Hite hooked the fish and handed the rod to Kuselias — which may or may not be true — was falling on deaf ears, so he changed tactics.
"Well you know what me and Jason we're all about?" Golic asked, referring to his guide, BASS professional angler Jason Quinn. "We were about getting to know each other."
But without a fish in hand or on film, Golic didn't stand a chance. Any further argument just gave Kuselias another chance to talk about his 3-pound bass.
"Well, we we're about winning," Kuselias came back. "You don't win the Bassmaster Classic because you know somebody really well; you win the Bassmaster Classic because you catch fish."
All Golic could do was smile, and he'd have been smiling even wider if he'd seen Kuselias' first few attempts at casting.
Experiencing the Classic
Golic and Kuselias stood under a pavilion on the shore of Lake Hartwell, staring at their breath in front of them. To their right was a group of about 15 guys building the set they'd do their show on Friday morning, and all around them — outside the pavilion — was nearly freezing cold rain.
Clearly this is not what they had in mind when a day on the lake with a Bassmaster professional angler was proposed to them.
"I want the full experience," Kuselias said smiling, not even sure if he believed that himself but excited by the prospect of a new experience. "I want this guy to do what he would usually do."
Golic looked at Kuselias like he was stupid and made sure Kuselias saw.
"We picked the right day," he said, looking back out at the lake.
A few minutes later, both radio hosts were in a boat, braving the weather and trying to give enough for the cameras and writers involved so everyone could get off the water.
Golic had no trouble with the mechanics. He held the rod, casted and even talked like a seasoned angler. He and Quinn stood close together and chatted about what it takes to be professional and Quinn shared some weather horror stories from his many days on the water.
After about 30 minutes, the camera crew, Golic and Quinn took the operation back off the water to get somewhere warm. If only Golic knew what was happening about a quarter mile away, you have to think he would have stayed on the water.
Hite had to show Kuselias how to do everything. A quick lesson on how to use a spinning rod, a briefing on casting and a couple strategy cliff notes and the show began. Hite sent Kuselias to far end of the boat for safety's sake and Kuselias butchered a few casts. About one out of five would actually result in the bait hitting the water. Most the time Kuselias just swung about three feet of line around his head and body, with Hite leaning nervously toward the front of the boat.
"I'm a one-man hazard out here," Kuselias said. "Apparently you don't have to take a test to get a fishing license."
A Bassmaster.com photographer asked Kuselias to move closer to the front of the boat so he could get a better photo. Hite smiled with some hesitation.
"It's not that I don't trust him " he said.
Two minutes later, Kuselias was reeling in the first bass of his life, and Hite was sprawled out on the deck, reaching with everything he's worth to lip the beast.
"Yes! Did you get that?" Kuselias asked the camera man before waving his arms to everyone else, searching for praise.
The search for truth
When Golic heard the news, he was in disbelief.
"You're kidding me. That's impossible," he said.
When it came out that Davy Hite might have hooked it and handed the pole to Kuselias, it started to come together.
"That makes a lot more sense," he said. "The safest place to be when Erik starts casting is in the water."
He was prepared with questions when he finally met up with Hite and Kuselias.
"What did you catch it on and how'd you do it?" he asked, knowing he wasn't going to get an intelligent answer.
"You put your bait on there, throw it out and troll it in," Kuselias said.
He glanced at Davy as he made his final rebuttal.
"I used plastic bait because real anglers don't use live bait," he said, nodding at Hite as if they had rehearsed it on their way up to the war room. "Look, I've got to be honest. I thought no fish in the water would think what I was throwing was a real fish, but it did, and I've got the video and photos to prove it. And that means I win."
Bassmaster.com will provide unprecedented live video coverage of the Classic this week, Feb. 22-24. We'll have live "Hooked Up," daily launches at 7:15 a.m. ET and live weigh-ins and real-time leaderboards starting at 4:30 p.m. ET broadcast live from the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C.