LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Florida bass are known for developing a case of lockjaw when the weather gets cold, and today the weather is definitely cold by Florida standards. A cold front has chilled things down to 45 degrees, and the wind coming off the lake makes it feel even colder.
But the bass just have to bite today.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Michael Iaconelli and Scotty Goldman, 15, of Connecticut, are on the water and battling the cold front for a strike or two.
They've been filming an episode of "Yo Ish!" for ESPN2 on a lake at Walt Disney World, and they're struggling. They haven't caught a fish.
So what gets a teenager out on an exclusive Disney lake with one of the sport's most famous and dynamic athletes, anyway?
Just two months ago, on Christmas Eve, Scotty was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. His family contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Scotty had a single request: "I'd like to fish with Mike Iaconelli." With the help of Elite Series angler Ish Monroe, Greg Waldron (of Walt Disney World Guided Fishing Excursions) and Iaconelli, it became a reality.
"What Ish has done, what Disney has done — it's just an awesome thing," said Al Cappy Jr., Scotty's stepfather. "It's something we'll remember the rest of our lives."
"All the credit goes to Mike," added Monroe. "When I told Mike about the situation, his only reaction was, 'Whatever we gotta do, he is in.' He's for the kids first. He just loves kids."
Off the end of the boat dock, Scotty's mom, an avid angler herself, suddenly catches a bass — the first of the day. She offers the bass to Scotty for posing in front of the TV cameras. Scotty quickly declines: Would Iaconelli ever pose holding a bass that was caught by Kevin VanDam?
Scotty and Ike keep fishing — absolutely focused — as if they were in the waning moments of the Bassmaster Classic.
Iaconelli, ever the teacher, demonstrates a fancy casting technique called an overhand roll, adding, "That's the best thing you'll learn today."
Scotty watches with a grin as the lure at the end of Iaconelli's line swings in a tight vertical loop before shooting out away from the boat and dropping gracefully into the water.
"You know the only reason I do that cast?" Iaconelli asks Scotty.
"Because it looks badass on TV, brother." The two share a laugh as they continue to cast, determined to get on some fish.
But time is winding down and schedules are beckoning. Scotty's time with Ike has been great, but it lacks something.
It needs a bass.
After the camera crew moved on to keep to its busy schedule, Scotty and his hero walk out to the end of the boat dock to spend a little more time together and make a few more casts.
Just then, Scotty's rod tip dips down toward the surface, and he has a fish.
Iaconelli leaps over to him, shouting ecstatically in typical Ike fashion as Scotty swings the largemouth onto the dock — a fitting end to a special day.
"He reminds me of myself," Ike says. "When you're fishing and don't have a bite, never give up. Never give up." Shaking his head, Iaconelli can't suppress a big grin.
And in the place where millions visit to make their dreams come true, Scotty's wish is complete.
He smiles, squinting in the bright sunlight, and says, "I'll remember this for a long time."