HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — For a while there, during the weigh-in on Day Two of the Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship, it looked as though Kim Bain was going to ride her 5-pound kicker fish to a runaway win.
The Day One leader, Debra Petrowski, had fallen off. After her trolling motor battery conked out around 11 a.m., she caught no more keepers, finishing with four fish.
Matters didn't exactly break for formerly third-place Juanita Robinson, either. She watched as a 3-pounder escaped the one hook on her topwater bait it had nibbled.
Bain's big fish was just 2 ounces shy of her entire Day One bag. That fish she caught while casting to a small spot between two grassy patches almost as an afterthought, figuring she might as well take a shot before her partner cast there. "That's an anchor fish right there," someone in the crowd marveled.
Fortune appeared to have been with Bain — and Bain alone. With 16 pounds total, she was cruising, almost 4 pounds ahead of Petrowski.
Then Audrey McQueen, who had stunk up the joint on Day One, rolled up with a pair of 3-plus-pounders among her five-fish limit. She vaulted from 19th place in the 20-angler field to second, 2-1 behind Bain.
And with that, there was again a tournament afoot.
Turns out she made her own luck. The Eagar, Ariz., hunting guide and champion elk caller who also happens to be four months pregnant, bombed on Day One because, she said, the hook on her jig was too big. As fish after fish came off, she thought, "I gotta change, I gotta change."
Eventually she convinced herself that her first rig had been all wrong, changed overnight and reaped the rewards. McQueen's Day One: two fish for 1-10. Her Day Two: five fish for 12-5.
"I didn't lose them today," she said. "With my jig fishing, I've never been real strong when I have a big ol' heavy hook. I would have had my limit yesterday if I had just changed."
(Or, as seventh-place Cindy Hill described the role of chance in tournament fishing: "If you feel it in your gut, go with it.")
After not pre-fishing but for one day of practice before the tournament, she's still figuring out the lake. But one more day like she had on Day Two and she'll win the thing. After she had a limit on Day Two, she went to find new water. "In the process," she said, "I caught another five or six keepers."
She wasn't the only angler digging in her heels, though. Asked about the breaks that saw her kicker fish escape while Bain landed hers, Robinson replied, "I've got tomorrow. I could come in with a 5-pounder tomorrow."
At 11-15, and in fourth place, Robinson is at least within a 5-pounder of the lead. Even more stubborn is the moxie displayed by Mary Divincenti, who actually fell from eighth to 14th on Day Two.
"It's not over yet," Divincenti told the weigh-in crowd. "The fat lady hasn't even stood up yet."
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship from Lake Hamilton, Ark., Oct. 23-25, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 4:00 p.m. ET.