CLANTON, Ala. A day full of sunshine and bluebird skies foiled the best-laid plans for the majority of the field in the inaugural Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship on Lake Mitchell, but one angler proved to be the exception.
Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., weighed in a five-fish limit of Coosa River spotted bass of 12 pounds, 6 ounces, for an opening-round advantage of almost three pounds over Tammie Muse of North Little Rock, Ark. The winner of the event will receive $10,000 in cash plus a fully rigged Triton boat with Mercury outboard valued at $50,000.
"I was kind of surprised that all I caught were spotted bass," Martin-Wells said. "I thought I would have a mixed-species limit. I didn't stay in any one place too long, but I was fortunate in that I caught fish just about everywhere I went."
Martin-Wells expects the fishing conditions to change if the current weather pattern of sunshine holds throughout the three-day tournament.
"I think it's going to take about 35 pounds to win if the fishing stays like it was today," said Martin-Wells, who was the winner of the WBT preview event. "If the largemouths bite, everything will be different."
Muse, who is battling a case of pneumonia, said she felt the bout may have helped her to a weight of 9-8.
"My doctor wanted to put me in the hospital, but I told him I couldn't do that," Muse said. "I wasn't about to miss this tournament. We're making history here. I just don't have my complete energy back. But that turned out to be a good thing, because the fish wanted it slow."
Dianna Clark of Bumpus Mills , Tenn., the reigning Toyota WBT Angler of the Year, was in third place with 8-15 after what she considered a difficult day on the water, which started with a fog delay of a little more than an hour.
"The fish I had been catching in practice just shut down," said Clark. "I just wish the weather hadn't made such a drastic change from what I call 'junky' weather to a bluebird sky."
Rounding out the top five were Sheri Glasgow of Muskogee, Okla., with 8-1 and Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, with 8-0. Robinson is riding a wave of momentum from winning the season-opening event of the 2007 Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats. That event was on Lake Amistad two weeks ago.
On the co-angler side, Angie Everett of Livingston, Texas, leads with 4-15, followed by Sharon Rushton of Kimberling City, Mo., at 4-12.
Friday's weigh-in will be at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in the ESPN Classic Expo presented by Under Armour at 3 p.m. The women will weigh in Saturday on the Bassmaster Classic stage at 3:15 p.m., just before the Bassmaster Classic contenders begin to weigh-in their catches.
WOMEN'S BASSMASTER TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
(Feb. 22-24, Lake Mitchell)
1. Pam Martin-Wells Bainbridge, Ga. 12-6
2. Tammie Muse North Little Rock, Ark. 9-8
3. Dianna Clark Bumpus Mills , Tenn. 8-15
4. Sheri Glasgow Muskogee, Okla. 8-1
5. Juanita Robinson Highlands, Texas 8-0
6. Cindy Hill Smyrna, Tenn. 7-13
7. Tammy Richardson Amity, Ark. 7-5
8. Linda Sands Cullman, Ala. 6-10
9. Robin Babb Livingston, Texas 2-10
10. Lisa Sternard Clarksville, Tenn. 1-8
11. Emily Shaffer Mount Juliet, Tenn. 1-5
12. Lucy Mize Ben Lomond, Ark. 1-0
1. Angela Everitt Livingston, Texas 4-15
2. Sharon Rushton Kimberling City, Mo. 4-12
3. Lila Bass Austin, Texas 2-8
4. Heather Sullivan Sitka, Alaska 1-14
5. Kim Stapp Ringgold, Ga. 1-10
5t. Karen Williams Stark City, Mo. 1-10
7. Summer Stephens Flintstone, Ga. 1-7
8. Colleen McKay Worchester, Mass 1-4
8t. Keri Schieber Cumming, Ga. 1-4
10. Mary Croft Bedford, Va. 0-14
11. Tammie Ply Harrison, Ark. 0-0
12. Bonnie Ward Snohomish, Wash. 0-0