For the first time, the winner of the Toyota Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year points race will receive a qualifying berth into the Classic. As the first woman to qualify for the Classic, the angler will earn a place in the record books, no matter how she fares against the other 50 contenders in the Feb. 20-22 event on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
WBT rookie Kim Bain of Alabaster, Ala., has held the lead in the AOY points race since she pulled off an upset win at the 2008 season opener in Texas. Gunning for her top spot are formidable competitors, including Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, who is just 23 points behind, in second place.
Robinson, a one-time WBT winner who has finished in the top 10 in every event this season, will try her best to overtake Bain at next week’s Clarks Hill Lake tournament in Georgia.
“I’m not paying attention to the numbers, I’m just working as hard as I can,” Robinson said. “I’ve been coming in earlier to events all season, spending a ton of time on the water practicing. I got to Clarks Hill Wednesday night (Sept. 3), and I’ve been out on the water every day since.”
In third place — 65 points behind Bain — is the reigning AOY, Sheri Glasgow of Muskogee, Okla., who has a win and 10 other top-10 finishes in her career on the women’s tour. Like Robinson, she isn’t obsessed with crunching numbers to work out possible points scenarios.
“I have a ballpark idea of where everybody’s sitting, but if you allow the points thing to get in your head, you can’t concentrate on fishing, on what you need to be doing at the lake,” Glasgow said. “I keep busy with my job when I’m not fishing, so I don’t even think much about a tournament until I’m physically there. I think there’s an advantage in that because, in the sport of fishing, you can overthink and mess yourself up.
“Don’t get me wrong, I talk to people about it. The Classic spot is as big as it gets for women in fishing.”
And then there’s Patti Campbell of Waxahachie, Texas, 92 points behind Bain. Not to mention Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., 94 points out. Martin-Wells’ record could give anyone reason to pause: she has won a multitude of bass tournaments in her career, including three WBT events: the preview event of 2005 before the tour officially kicked off, the 2006 championship, and a 2008 tournament in Alabama.
A new twist to the WBT points system this year — what’s known as “the drop” — might help some and might hurt others.
Here’s how it works: Pros compete in four regular-season tournaments (Clarks Hill being the final one), earning points on a sliding scale according to finishes. After the Sept. 18-20 Clarks Hill event comes “the drop”: Each pro’s lowest tournament finish will be dropped from the points tally. The resulting top 20 in the standings earn the right to compete in the fifth 2008 event, the Women’s Bassmaster Championship presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors on Lake Hamilton out of Hot Springs, Ark.. Points earned at that Oct. 23-25 event will top off each pro’s total.
That’s when one pro will emerge as the points race winner to be the 2008 Toyota Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year, and thus the historic Classic qualifier.
FOR THE KIDS. It’s time for the annual Tim Horton Fishing for Kids event.
This is the 10th year the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Muscle Shoals, Ala., has staged the outing for special-needs kids and adults. This year’s event is Sept. 27 on Alabama’s Pickwick Lake out of McFarland Park in Florence, Ala.
“In ten years we have taken over 1,200 special-needs children and adults fishing,” said Horton, the 1999 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “I get more enjoyment out of Fishing for Kids than anything I do in the sport.”
After a picnic lunch, about 50 participants will be taken in volunteers’ boats for several hours of fun on Pickwick.
The event is funded by contributions from local businesses and staffed by volunteers. Anyone with a boat — especially a pontoon boat — who wants to volunteer to help can e-mail Horton at email@example.com.
Horton’s event is a prime example of many of the charitable acts exhibited by Bassmaster Elite Series pros.
ON TAP: Through the next two weeks, the final names will be added to the roster of 55 for the BASS Federation Nation Championship, slated for November 6-8 on Milford Lake out of Junction City, Kansas.
From the championship, six Federation anglers will emerge as qualifiers for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River, Feb. 20-22 out of Shreveport/Bossier City, La. There, the federation amateurs will go head-to-head with 45 other anglers, including at least 37 Bassmaster Elite Series pros.
The Federation Nation has already completed four of its six championship-qualifying events. This week will be the fifth, the Mid-Atlantic Divisional. It’s slated for Sept. 10-12 on John H. Kerr Reservoir in Clarksville, Va.
The sixth, the Eastern Divisional, will be next week, Sept 17-19, on Lake Winnipesaukee in Laconia, N.H. There the top finishers from each state’s team will become the last qualifiers for the championship.
The weigh-ins of the event in Virginia will be shown live at www.Bassmaster.com. Fans can go to the web site daily at 3 p.m. ET, Sept. 10-12.
The weigh-ins of the divisional in New Hampshire also will be online. Fans can check the BASS Federation Nation home page next week for starting times of the streaming video.
Each divisional produces one overall winner, but it’s the top finishers from each state team will advance to the BASS Federation Nation Championship.
HOW TO BE HARD ON YOURSELF: “I do wish I'd done better but I guess you can't win them all. I should win some, though.” — Bassmaster Elite Series pro Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., in his BASS Insider blog at www.Bassmaster.com, writing just after the 2008 season-ender on New York’s Oneida Lake. Martens won an Elite event in 2007 and has qualified for 10 Bassmaster Classic competitions in the past 11 years.
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.