As of Friday, after two days fishing Neely Henry Lake, two women anglers were tied for first place. The top six, who made it to the final day from the original field of more than 100 pro anglers and will fish Saturday, were separated by less than three pounds.
Penny Berryman of Hot Springs, Ark., and Kathi Hurst of Ripley, Miss., shared the lead with total weights of 21 pounds, 7 ounces. Hurst moved up from her eighth-place standing with a catch of 11-1 on Friday, while Berryman went from third to first with a catch of 9-6.
“I look at the scores and see how tight it is in the top six,” said Berryman. “My mind and every ounce of energy are going to be focused on keeping my lure wet all day (Saturday).
“I would love to be the first winner, but I’m thrilled just to be here and be in the top six,” she added. “I give 100 percent to the job at hand.”
Hurst, the only woman to qualify for the ESPN Outdoors Bassmaster Series Championship this year, was just as determined to capture the title.
“I’m thinking about catching fish,” said Hurst. “I hadn’t really thought about the historic part of it. I’m just trying to stay focused.”
Anglers fished on Friday under warm, overcast conditions, and there were some reports of light rain. A severe storm came through the area after fishing was completed on Thursday, and the top two said the weather affected their fishing.
“Several patterns are working, but it’s been very complicated due to the conditions we’ve been handed,” said Berryman. “It’s been really tricky figuring this out.”
She said she fished surface water with a modified Zara Spook lure, then switched to two different crankbaits, then did some flipping.
“I’m going to try and make a smart judgment call (Saturday) and it will all depend upon the conditions,” she said.
Hurst likewise tried a mixed bag of lures and techniques.
“Today I went back to my same area and I started out like I ended yesterday,” said Hurst. “I caught some early with a Wave Worms Tiki-Toad. Then they stopped hitting that, and I switched to a slower bait and started flipping a finesse worm in the grass, fishing shallow.
“The water was up this morning and I thought that might help me, but they started drawing the water down and I think that might have hurt my fishing,” she added. “The fish were a lot more active (Thursday).”
Sherry Glasgow of Muskogee, Okla., was third with 20-13 after catching 9-5 Friday. “I had been catching some fish on the beds the first day, and I was excited to go back and get some of the ones I had seen,” she said. “But the storm came through (Thursday) night and those fish were gone. The water was muddy and there was a lot of debris. The fishing changed drastically.”
In places four through six were Linda Sands, of Cullman, Ala., 20-0; Tammy Richardson, of Amity, Ark., 19-0; and Deanie Tate of Arkadelphia, Ark., 18-15. Tate received the $1,000 Purolator Big Bass award for her 5-11 lunker on Friday.
Rhonda Pope, who led Day 1 after catching 14-8, failed to make the final cut after weighing in only 11 ounces Friday.
Texan Pat White led the co-angler division with 10-14, followed by Bonnie Ward of Washington with 10-13 and Heather Sullivan of Arkansas with 9-9.
The final-day Women’s Bassmaster Tour weigh-in will be at Guntersville (Ala.) High School in conjunction with the third-day weigh-in for the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series’ Southern Challenge presented by Berkley at Lake Guntersville.
For the women, first prize in the pro class is a Triton Boat and Mercury Marine package valued at $50,000; co-anglers are going for a Triton and Mercury rig valued at $25,000. In addition to the prize money, anglers are also chasing points toward qualifying for the Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship, a tournament that will be in conjunction with the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
Local sponsors: Local sponsors include the City of Gadsden Department of Parks & Recreation and the Gadsden Inn and Suites.
Women’s Bassmaster Tour sponsors: Sponsors of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour include Mercury Marine, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Plano.
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