That’s the consensus among most of the 12 pros who will compete on South Carolina’s Lake Keowee for the second WBT Championship.
The event will be held in conjunction with the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 22-24, in Greenville, S.C. The WBT weigh-ins Feb. 22-23 will be on the Classic stage at Greenville’s Bi-Lo Center at 3:45 p.m. ET, just before the 50 Classic pros bring their Lake Hartwell catches to the scales.
The women qualified for their championship by finishing within the top 12 in the 2007 Toyota Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year points race.
As the 2007 Angler of the Year, Sheri Glasgow of Muskogee, Okla., is looking to deliver a 1-2 punch by adding a WBT Championship to her resume, which includes nine top-five finishes in two years and a win. As defending champion, Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., is stoked at the prospect of putting together back-to-back championship victories.
When Martin-Wells pulled off a wire-to-wire win at the inaugural championship in 2007, Glasgow was runner-up. When Glasgow won AOY honors last season, Martin-Wells was runner-up. The next goal for both is the title at the second championship, but with 10 other talented pros in the event, it’s not expected to be a Glasgow vs. Martin-Wells faceoff.
One of those 10 contenders is Audrey McQueen of Luna, N.M.
A professional hunting guide and champion elk caller who holds national titles, McQueen qualified for her first WBT Championship through her first full year on the trail, finishing in fourth place in the AOY race. Determined to get in practice time on Keowee before the Jan. 21 cutoff, she towed her boat 1,760 miles from her part-time home in Eager, Ariz.
The confidence she has built as a lifelong, accomplished hunter — her recent trophies include a 370-score bull elk of 950 pounds — carries over to her fishing career.
“Whenever I go into a tournament, confidence is everything,” she said. “It’s hard to do that for the championship, but I have to get my mind-set right and go into it like it’s any other tournament. If I go out there and worry too much about it being the championship, I’ll beat myself.”
After days of scouting Keowee, McQueen estimates that 33 to 34 pounds will take the win.
“I think if you come in with a solid 10 pounds every day, you’ll be right in the hunt,” she said. “If you get a kicker of 3 to 4 pounds, you’ll be right there.”
The Keowee event will be the second championship for pro Cindy Hill. She made two scouting trips to the South Carolina impoundment, pulling her boat from her home in Smyrna, Tenn. A full-time angler who ranked ninth in the AOY standings and placed seventh in last year’s championship, Hill has an easy confidence that stems from the way she approaches learning a fishery.
“If you want to fish this correctly, you have to put the time into it and be there and see what the fish are doing and get the lay of the land and feel comfortable with it, so that’s what I do,” Hill said.
She predicted that about 12 pounds a day will score the win.
Most of the catches likely will be spotted bass, Keowee’s prevalent species. The lake harbors largemouth bass, but many of the pros who scouted the 18,500-acre impoundment said that hooking a largemouth tends to be a matter of luck.
Along with Glasgow, Martin-Wells and Hill, the repeat qualifiers include two-time WBT winner and 2006 AOY Dianna Clark of Bumpus Mills, Tenn.; one-time winner Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas; and two Arkansans — one-time winner Lucy Mize of Ben Lomond and three-time event champion Tammy Richardson of Amity.
In addition to McQueen, first-time qualifiers are Judy Wong of Many, La.; Penny Berryman of Hot Springs, Ark.; Marcia Rubin of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; and Secret York of Benton, Ky.
At the same time the pros face off for the championship title, 12 co-anglers will vie for a first-place prize of $34,500 in cash and merchandise. Co-anglers compete against each other from the back of the pros’ boats.
WBT Championship Contenders (AOY points listed)
1 Sheri Glasgow Okla. 1480
2 Pam Martin-Wells Ga. 1344
3 Lucy Mize Ark. 1253
4 Audrey McQueen Ariz. 1248
5 Juanita Robinson Texas 1245
6 Tammy Richardson Ark. 1220
7 Judy Wong La. 1214
8 Dianna Clark Tenn. 1206
9 Cindy Hill Tenn. 1194
10 Penny Berryman Ark. 1173
11 Secret York Ky. 1162
12 Marcia Rubin Ohio 1107
WBT Championship Co-Anglers
1 Jan Hudson Ark. 1298
2 Karol Whitehurst Texas 1297
3 Kala Wright Okla. 1274
4 Laura Elkins Texas 1232
5 Debbie Pegoli Ohio 1165
6 Bonnie Ward Wash. 1155
7 Kim Stapp Ga. 1143
8 Cheryl Holloway La. 1142
9 Dianne Kegley Ark. 1127
10 Colleen McKay Mass. 1114
11 Angie Everitt Texas 1112
12 Barbara Gaskins Va. 1107
Women’s Bassmaster Tour Sponsors: Toyota Tundra, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Advance Auto Parts, Berkley, Legend Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Mercury Marine, Mustang Survival and Triton Boats.
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