"Don't come to the weigh-in," Mike Guilbeau told Lisa, his wife of nearly 12 years. "I don't have anything going. It would be a waste of time."
Guess who won the 30th annual Mr. Clark Hill bass fishing championship on Strom Thurmond Lake Oct. 5?
Lisa, who stayed home with 2-year-old Landon and 7-year-old Taylor, made three guesses when fellow angler Dave Drummond called in the good news to her on his cell phone. Their dialogue went something like this:
Drummond: "Bet you can't guess who won?"
Lisa: "Dale (Gibbs)?" (She went to Harlem High School with Gibbs and is the social studies teacher there now). Gibbs is a two-time Mr. Clark Hill.
Lisa: "Bart (Blackburn)?" The North Augustan has yet to win it.
Drummond: "No, it's a little bit closer to home."
Lisa: "You can't mean my Mike?"
"I started screaming and laughing and crying," Mrs. Guilbeau recalled during a telephone interview this week. "I was so excited and knew how important it was for Mike."
She hadn't exactly calmed down when Mr. Clark Hill arrived home.
"I waited in the driveway and when he got out of the truck, gave him a big kiss! I mean, I really smeared on the lipstick!"
The Mr. Clark Hill tournament pits many of the Augusta area's finest bass fishermen against each other on the first Saturday in October every year. The winner gets bragging rights and a big ego kick that lasts until the following year.
Guilbeau, from Evans, was lucky from the start of this year's tournament.
"I found another bass boat sitting on the spot where I caught fish during practice on the Tuesday before the tournament," he said. "After the boat left, I moved in and caught four bass, with the biggest weighing 2 or 2 1/4 pounds. Two came on a Sammy (a Japanese-made top-water lure) and two came on the Zoom Super Fluke with chartreuse tail. I was able to cull five fish during the tournament day, but three of the fish I kept were those caught early.
"My biggest bass of 2.85 pounds hit the Sammy - its color is called Aurora Black - in 16 feet of water around noon. I figured I had a total of 9 or 10 pounds, and was surprised when they weighed in at 11.66 pounds.
"After the weigh-in, a guy's boat had drifted away from the bank and I went out to help him. When I got back in, my friend (Dave) Drummond came up. 'Man, you're in the lead!' he said. I said 'No way!'
The champion's previous Mr. Clark Hill finishes were fourth in 1995 when he fished with legendary angler Tommy Shaw of Leah, Ga.; third in 1997; second behind Gibbs in 1998 and ninth last year.