Hill Moves In On Bain in the Race to the Bassmaster Classic

Going into the homestretch, Cindy Hill of Smyrna, Tenn., is catching up to leader Kim Bain of Alabaster, Ala., in the race to be the first woman to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic, bass fishing’s premier event.

Hill lags by just 14 points, giving her a realistic chance to overtake Bain, who has led the race since the beginning of the 2008 season of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors.

Along with 18 other pros vying for the same prize, the leaders are banking on earning more points at the Oct. 23-25 WBT Championship presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton out of Hot Springs.

Besides a berth in the 2009 Classic — Feb. 20-22 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La. — the WBT pro who ends up with the most points takes two other big prizes: the Toyota Tundra Women’s Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and a 2009 fully-rigged Toyota truck.

The points race has not been a dash, but a long-distance run in which the pros have earned points according to their finishes in four regular-season events. The top 20 then qualified last weekend for the Arkansas championship.

And now the question has become: Can anyone earn enough points in Arkansas to catch Kim Bain?

Does Hill think she can?

“I don’t really know,” said Hill, who took her first WBT win last weekend at Clarks Hill Lake in Georgia. “There’s nothing that can’t be done. I go out and fish every tournament like it’s for Angler of the Year. I don’t really think about points that much, I just think about me and the fish.”

She is thinking about the WBT Championship, and has been for quite some time.

“Last October, right after the 2008 schedule was released, I went to Lake Hamilton and marked spots that looked good. I wanted to see it when the water was down. I feel confident with my fishing ability that I can catch them.”

So is the WBT points race now a Bain-Hill faceoff? Hardly — they’re the two who are closest to the prize, but not the only ones who could score it.

A glance at the standings (available at www.Bassmaster.com) reveals a list of formidable competitors. Ten of the championship qualifiers have WBT event titles on their fishing resumes, and several boast multiple wins. Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, is only 35 points behind Bain in third.

WATCH THIS WEEK. Fishing fans can click in Thursday-Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET to www.Bassmaster.com to watch the weigh-ins of the Bassmaster Central Open out of Paris, Tenn.

About 350 anglers are registered to compete on Kentucky Lake, half of them pros and half of them co-anglers. The top prize in the pro division is $45,000. The winner in the co-angler division gets a $32,000 boat rig.

This season, three Central Open pros will earn berths in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, and 10 will get invitations to advance to the Bassmaster Elite Series. The berths will be determined after the final Central Open event, set for Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 on Lake Texoma out of Denison, Texas.

BASS INSIDER TEAMS WITH Z3 MEDIA: BASS and Z3 Media of Norman, Okla., have reached an agreement that will result in even more angling resources at BASS Insider, the premium pages of www.Bassmaster.com.

Z3 Media will produce more than 250 articles, videos and audio interviews that will be added to BASS Insider’s already extensive offerings.

The agreement taps into Z3 Media’s wealth of experience covering the Bassmaster Elite Series for the Z3 properties of BASSZONE.com and an XM Sports Nation radio program, “The Bass Zone.” Both of the Z3 products will continue to focus on the competitive aspects of the Elite Series; the Z3-produced content for BASS Insider will be centered on Elite-level techniques and strategies.

“We are thrilled to get the opportunity to provide content for BASS Insider members,” said Mark Jeffreys, founder of Z3 Media and BASSZONE.com. “Being on location at every Elite Series event allows our Z3 staff to obtain inside information that will now be available to the BASS Insider membership.”

A members-only Web site founded in 2005, BASS Insider offers a free 30-day trial membership. To check it out, go to www.Bassmaster.com and click on the BASS Insider link.

KIDS ARE THE WINNERS. Now that the Bassmaster Elite Series is on break between seasons, Elite pro Chris Lane of Lakeland, Fla., has more time to devote to one of his favorite charities, Get Reel.

On Oct. 5, he’ll host the Get Reel for Kids Bass Fishing Tournament on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

Get Reel works to introduce fishing to Florida children and their families. The organization provides equipment and water-safety education.

The format of the tournament is two-man teams competing for one day for a $10,000 first-place payout based on a full field of 100 boats. The entry fee is $200. Takeoff will be at Camp Mack River Resort near Lake Wales, Fla.

All proceeds go to the Get Reel Foundation. For more information, go to www.getreelfl.com.

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: “I think you always need to have a couple of plans … but I think the most important thing is to trust your instincts a little bit and be brave, go and try something new if what you found in practice isn’t working out.” — Kim Bain, at last week’s Clarks Hill event of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors. The pro from Alabaster, Ala., finished second, good enough to hold on to the lead in the WBT Angler of the Year points race.

HOMECOMING: “Fishing is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and I love every minute of it. But at the end of the day, there is absolutely nothing like coming back from a long trip and seeing your kids run down the hall to meet you at the door.” — Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 2008 Rookie of the Year Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Fla., in this month’s BASS Insider blog, on coming home for the offseason.

About BASS

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.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

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.