WBT Kick-Off Gets Big Time Approval

Inside BASS

The nation’s most enthusiastic female tournament bass anglers labored in the shadows for years and never enjoyed the important foundation that the men had long benefited from — a large, influential organization and national media partner.

Until now.

The support of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and parent company ESPN was in plain view at the recent launch of the Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats at Alabama’s Lake Neely Henry. And its significance was not lost on the competitors.

Here’s a sampling of their reactions:

•Susan Gregory, of Long Beach, Miss.: “I competed on another tournament circuit for two years. This was awesome. The turnout was great. The field was full. We had a wonderful turnout at the weigh-ins. We had a lot of the people from town show up, and it was unbelievable. The excitement of this tournament was awesome. I just can’t put it into words. There were sponsors out there on the docks supporting us. It’s just a whole new sport for us.”

•Co-angler Keri Schieber, of Cumming, Ga.: “I thought it was incredible. It was very professionally done. And all of the women I fished with were so nice. What I’m seeing with the pros is it’s just like one, big family. Hopefully next year I’ll be fishing as a pro.”

•Linda Sands, of Cullman, Ala.: “Words can’t describe how I feel about this first tournament. Just pulling in here (Guntersville High School football stadium, site of the final weigh-in) was overwhelming, to tell you the truth. It’s been a long time coming, and we appreciate it so much what ESPN and BASS are doing for us.”

•Penny Berryman, of Hot Springs, Ark.: “It really lived up to (expectations). You should have seen the weigh-ins. Everybody was screaming and hollering and having a great time. It was very well done. Does it feel different (from past women’s circuits)? Well, sure it does. Competitively, no; but because of all of the organization and extra workers behind it — and the publicity — it’s really wonderful. I can’t wait for it to grow more.”

•Kathy Hurst, of Ripley, Miss.: “It was great. I’m really excited about the circuit. I think it’s going to grow to be a really good thing for women’s fishing and the fishing industry as a whole.”

BASS SCHOOL. Thanks to an innovative job-shadowing program at Lincoln Junior High School in Bentonville, Ark., 13-year-old Dalton Ross recently spent a day with CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark.

Ross hopes to be a bass pro someday.

“I think it’s really cool that the school saw bass fishing as a legitimate profession,” McClelland told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “That’s an indication of how far this sport has come. It keeps growing and giving more people a realistic chance to make a living at it.

“I was honored that Dalton wanted to spend a day with me.”

TEAM TRU-TUNGSTEN. Tru-Tungsten has gotten caught up in the Women’s Bassmaster Tour excitement, as well, and has signed six female pros — Pam Martin-Wells, Laura Gober, Carol Martens, Robin Babb, Mary Hencken and Cheryl LaLumandier.

“Our purpose in sponsoring these outstanding women is to show the fishing industry that Tru-Tungsten is supporting the whole family in different kinds of fishing tournaments,” pro staff manager Tom Branch Jr. said. “The women of Tru-Tungsten are going to prove that if you fish harder with Tru-Tungsten weights and lures, you will have an advantage on the competition."

WEIRDEST CATCH. “The strangest thing I ever caught would have to be a pair of men’s underwear,” said Sands, who finished third in the Women’s Bassmaster Tour season opener in Alabama. “It was on Smith Lake (Alabama) where we live. I caught them on a worm.”

There was no word on boxers or briefs.

DID YOU KNOW? Alabama’s Steve Kennedy, who sits in fourth place in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, is in position to become the first rookie to win Angler of the Year honors since Tim Horton accomplished the feat in 2000.

PRO BIRTHDAYS. Eight-time BASS winner Shaw Grigsby celebrates his 49th birthday on May 11th.

IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … Sheri Glasgow would be spending more time working as a custom cabinetmaker in Muskogee, Okla. “When I’m not on the road doing these tournaments, I’m at home doing cabinets,” said the runner-up from the Women’s Bassmaster Tour stop at Lake Neely Henry.

THEY SAID IT. “There are a lot of tournaments left. And the thing that I really like about this season is the diversity that we’re going to fish. We’re going to fish through different seasons where you’re going to have to fish a lot of different ways. And a guy’s going to have to be versatile. This year’s Angler of the Year is going to be the truest Angler of the Year we’ve ever had.” - Despite losing a tournament to disqualification, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kevin VanDam hasn’t given up on trying to win a fourth CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year title

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BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, call 1-877-BASS-USA or visit www.bassmaster.com.