Million-dollar cash


POSTED: Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reeling in the big one has a new meaning for Rochelle Barcenilla, who has the chance to win $1 million for catching a specially tagged bass in a fishing contest.

Barcenilla, 30, of Waipahu, was randomly selected from thousands of contestants for the Early Times Kentucky Whisky “;Reel in a Million”; contest that has a prize that could change her life.

The only problem is Barcenilla doesn't fish.

“;All I can remember as a child was fishing with a bamboo stick and a floater,”; said Barcenilla.

Barcenilla will be fishing on North Carolina's Lake Norman on June 27 with Kevin Wirth, one of the world's top-ranked bass anglers. Besides the “;Big Cash Bass,”; she and Wirth will have eight hours to catch 24 tagged-bass that are connected to other prizes, including a Triton bass boat, gift cards and fishing gear.

Barcenilla entered the contest through About.com, a Web site she frequents when she's bored. She entered the Early Times contest thinking that her husband would enjoy a fishing trip to the East Coast and forgot about it until contest officials sent her a FedEx box last month. Barcenilla was still skeptical that she won until they began calling her with contest details and an itinerary of the trip, which will be paid for by Early Times.

“;At first I thought, 'Is this real?' It didn't really sink in, but as it gets closer to the day, I'm getting more and more anxious,”; said Barcenilla, who has been practicing fishing with her husband two to three times a week.

With no access to a boat, Barcenilla and her husband, Jacob, have been practicing in the field of Waipahu Intermediate and in Waikele Stream, which is 25 feet away from their house.

“;It's been so-so,”; said Barcenilla of her practice. “;I've been snagging more than I did reeling in, but my main focus next week is my aim. My husband's been working with me on it.”;

Jacob Barcenilla, who fishes frequently, said Rochelle has been practicing whipping and consistently reeling in the line.

“;She wasn't that good when she first started, but she's been better at getting the timing down to releasing the line,”; said Jacob. “;I think she's gonna do good.”;

Lake Norman is the biggest lake in North Carolina, with 32,510 acres of surface area. In the past two years, both winners failed to catch the “;Big Cash Bass,”; said Barcenilla.

Although Wirth will be fishing with Barcenilla and whatever he catches will be credited to her, she's trying to be realistic about the odds of winning.

“;I'm trying not to bank on it,”; said Barcenilla, who has three sons ranging from 4 to 8 years old. “;But if I do win, the first thing I want to do is take my kids on vacation to Disneyland.”;

If Barcenilla doesn't catch the million-dollar fish, the contest will continue on June 28 for the first 50 boats that paid a $35 registration fee. Those anglers will have the chance to catch the “;Big Cash Bass,”; which will be lowered in value to $50,000, and what remains of the other 24 tagged-bass, which will be worth their original prizes.

“;She never catch anything yet, so I'm crossing my fingers,”; said Jacob. “;Beginners luck, I hope.”;