Look to Louisiana for world champion bass angler
July 27, 2001
Even non-anglers know about the BASS Master's Classic. Billed as the biggest event of its kind in outdoor sports, the Classic pits the world's top bass anglers who have advanced to the front of the field by out-fishing their peers throughout the year on the BASSMASTERS Tournament Trail. This year's Classic is set for New Orleans, August 2 – 4.
But put an asterisk beside the phrase "top bass anglers." Because The BASSMASTERS Classic has not to date included a single woman. Furthermore the Women's Bass Fishing Association (WBFA) Classic World Championship is also scheduled for August in Louisiana. The site is the Red River at Alexandria/Pineville and the dates are August 18 – 25. Put an equal number of lady professionals with the men of B.A.S.S. in a fish-off championship and you would have about the same number of top money winners of each sex.
Equal Talent, Unequal Pay
That's right. The best women bass anglers are just as dedicated, just as skilled and just as competitive as the best men pros. They just don't get the big sponsorship backing and thus don't win the money that the men do. And it ain't right!
The women have a tour second to none, with highly professional leadership and innovative programs. And every city that hosts a WBFA tournament or their Classic Championship is thrilled with the event, resulting in constant invitations for the women pros to return.
Look at this year's Classic on the Red River. The 30 privileged anglers fishing the Classic (26 pros, co-Amateurs of the Year and 2 affiliated club winners) will arrive a day early for check-in and pre-fishing so they can take disadvantaged children fishing in their boats. This has become an integral part of each WBFA Classic. The kids are sponsored by an organization called Catch a Special Thrill (C.A.S.T.). Some of the children are severely handicapped and most have never caught a fish.
The pros, after helping a child catch a fish who perhaps has never walked or can barely hold a fishing rod, are more moved by the experience than by their Classic challenge. The "weigh-ins" for the kids is an extended and touching ceremony where each young angler is interviewed in front of the crowd, encouraged, congratulated and given prizes. A picnic follows the weigh-in. The face of a youngster who has just caught their first fish and ridden 50 miles an hour with a pro angler in a gleaming bass boat is unforgettable for those attending the event.
Following these Sunday activities, the contenders will practice fish Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, an elaborate banquet will be held to honor the Angler of the Year, the Amateur of the Year and the Rookie of the Year. Awards and prizes abound.
This year, Wednesday will be devoted to special VIP women from across Louisiana who will come to Alexandria and pair off with the lady pros for a one-day mini-tournament within a tournament. Winners will receive prize money at the weigh-in.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the competition days, with weigh-in at 3 p.m. each day. Final weigh-in will be Saturday at the Riverfront Convention Center in Alexandria where the new WBFA World Champion will be named. A banquet that evening at the Bently Hotel will honor the new champion.
The host cities of Alexandria and Pineville, along with many local and national sponsors of the event, are rolling out the red carpet for these professional anglers. The area has sponsored previous WBFA tournaments and eagerly sought the 2001 Classic.
For complete information on the WBFA Classic World Championship, log on to the WBFA web site at wbfatour.com, call their headquarters at (205) 663-5243 or contact the Alexandria/Pineville Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-551-9546.