LITTLE ROCK, Ark. With fists pumping and arms raised, it looked like Annika Sorenstam walking off the 18th green with another LPGA victory.
Only it wasn't the world's best female golfer, it was Diana Clark, who has put herself in some eyes as the world's best female bass angler. The Bumpus Mills, Tenn., native dominated the field of the Women's Bassmaster Tour for three days on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark.
"I guess if I'm going to win, I have to be leading the tournament after Day One, Day Two, and then win it on Day Three," said Clark.
That was exactly what happened on Dardanelle and exactly what happened in late May on Lewisville Lake in Texas. Two wire-to-wire victories and two fully rigged Triton and Mercury boats valued at $50,000 a piece.
Clark's three-day total of 29 pounds, 9 ounces was a full 10 pounds more than the second place finisher. That was Lucy Mize from Ben Lomond, Ark., who will pocket $6,200 for her efforts.
Finishing the tournament in the bronze medal position was Paula Alexander from Lincolnton, Ga., with a total weight of 16 pounds, 8 ounces.
Fourth place was Kelley Shepard from Cortez, Colo., with 15 pounds, 14 ounces. And in the number five position was Kimberlee Striker out of Cullman, Ala., with 13 pounds even. Rounding out the Super Six was Laura Gober from Georgia with 11 pounds, 5 ounces.
The WBT two-time champion caught a five-fish limit of bass on the first day and never looked back. She led after Day Two by more than nine pounds over the second place competitor.
"I actually didn't sleep that much last night but was still pretty calm about everything," Clark said. "I figured all I needed was two fish to get the victory, and I don't know if I even needed that."
Probably not, but the three fish she nabbed on the final day made the drive to Little Rock for the weigh-in that much more breathable.
The 35,000-acre impoundment the WBT fished during the event posed as many challenges as the Arkansas River did for the field of Elite anglers. Nearly half of the field on the first day failed to land a keeper, and one quarter of them came up empty on Day Two.
Clark found a concentrated area of fish in the northern part of the lake. She said she was fishing anywhere from one to two feet of water looking for grass mats. She attributed her success to a B & M prototype jig bait that hasn't been released on the market yet.
"The jig is definitely my go to bait," she said. "When the heat and conditions get bad, I like to go for the better quality fish."
"It was a tough tournament out there," admitted Clark. "Maybe one of the toughest I've been in. Bull Shoals will be tough too because I've never been on the lake and don't know anything about it."
She will take the momentum she has gained over the last four tournaments to try and maintain her standing atop the points list.
"I guess you get on a roll and you need to stay on fire, just like KVD," Clark said. "When he starts rocking and rolling, he stays up there, I want to be recognized in this sport."
Diana Clark may soon become the KVD of the WBT.
The WBT travels to Missouri for the final stop of the tournament circuit in mid-September. This will be the last chance for anglers to earn valuable points towards the WBT championship, which is to be held in conjunction with the 2007 Classic.
Clark began fishing as a child in Texas in ponds and small lakes. From there she joined the military and has since retired from Ft. Campbell in Kentucky. The 42-year-old has been fishing competitively since 2001.
In other WBT news, the co-angler champion of the Dardanelle tournament was also crowned on Saturday. Robertina Filburn from Vine Grove, Ky., managed to not catch a single fish on the final day and still walk away with the $24,000 Triton Boat and Mercury Motor package.
"I'm so emotional because I was ahead for two days and today I zeroed," explained Filburn. "All the way from Russellville to Little Rock my heart was saying that I had lost my boat."
Her 11 pounds, 8 ounces was just enough to squeak by Massachusetts's Colleen McKay who had a three-day total of 11 pounds, 5 ounces.
"I have been toeing around a little Javelin, so this boat is definitely moving me on up," said Filburn.