If Bain holds on to the AOY lead, she will become the first female angler to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic in its 39-year history and will also receive a fully-rigged Toyota Tundra. Bain entered the Championship 14 points ahead of Cindy Hill of Smyrna, Tenn., in the standings and 35 points ahead of Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” said Bain, who moved from Australia to the U.S. nine years ago to pursue a career in bass fishing. “Clearly, I have a lot riding on this but I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.”
Robinson continued her challenge Thursday of Bain's AOY lead, finishing third with 6-6. Hill barely missed boating a 4-pounder and is in 16th place with 2-4. While Robinson gains on Bain, she will need Bain to falter or will have to win the Championship event herself to have a chance at the AOY. The points race will be settled Saturday at the culmination of the Championship.
While Bain, Hill and Robinson battle for the coveted Classic berth, Debra Petrowski, with 7-12, put herself in good position Thursday to take the top Championship prize of a fully-rigged boat package valued at $55,000 in addition to $5,000. Trailing Petrowski in second was Lisa Sternard of Clarksville, Tenn., with 6-12.
Petrowski, of Arlington, Texas, persevered through a slow day on Hamilton by concentrating on areas where shallow water transitioned to deep dropoffs. She didn't want to give up details on her pattern but said she was being aggressive and caught fish throughout the day, though the morning was slower.
She attributed much of her success to a scouting trip to Hamilton in July. During that trip. when the water was significantly lower, she was better able to see the lake. The July visit to the lake was Petrowski's first .
“I’m concentrating on a specific, certain thing and I think it has really paid off,” she said. “This is a huge deal to be in the lead at the Championship.”
The Texan qualified for the Championship on the strength of three top-20 finishes in four regular-season events. She was 15th in the Toyota Tundra Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year standings heading into the Championship. Based on their regular-season AOY rankings, only the top 20 anglers qualified for the Championship.
As she has all season, Petrowski was joined in the field by her daughter, Kim, who qualified for the co-angler field. Kim struggled Thursday, failing to boat a keeper.
Leading in the co-anger division was Debbie Pegoli of Loveland, Ohio, who weighed in two fish for an overall weight of 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Trailing Pegoli in second was Debra Cook of Gardendale, Ala., with three fish weighing 3 pounds, 10 ounces, and in third, Linda Walker of Beebe, Ark., with 3 pounds, 8 ounces. Co-anglers are competing for a $37,500 Skeeter-Yamaha rig and $3,250.
Sponsors of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour include Academy Sports & Outdoors, Toyota Tundra, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance, Mercury, Skeeter, Yamaha, OPTIMA Batteries, Triton Boats, Legend Boats, MoGills and Mustang.
For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive web properties in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage to passionate audiences.
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BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.