Lakecaster Online

The Lady Bass-Master -Where Skill Has No Gender-
by Ed Snyder


Lady Bass "Rookie of the Year", "Three time Lady Bass Classic contender and one time Bass N'Gal Classic angler, "Lady Bass and Bass N'Gal National Champion" and "1999 Woman's Bass Fishing Association World Champion", "FOLKS" meet a wife of thirty three years, mother of two, grandmother of four, and 1999 WBFA World Bass Champion, Donna Newberry.

You could actually feel the tension in the air around Twin Dikes Marina, not from the stormy clash of an approaching cold front, but rather from within the surrounding crowd of tournament spectators who're straining to spot some of their favorite B.A.S.S. Professionals who were lining up to weigh-in their days worth of competitive bass fishing.

This was the first day of the three day BASSMaster Central Texas Invitational tournament on Lake Sam Rayburn, TX, and taking her turn among the BASS/Pro's who began stepping up on stage to weigh their catches was a tall, smiling Lady Bass/Pro from Van Buren, AR.

"Never in a million years would you have ever made me believe that I'd be doing this today, answered the grinning Pentecostal Christian lady bass angler who began filling my notebook with the inputs and outputs of her chosen life-style, "As I grew up in a family who never went fishing as I was the only girl in a family of four brothers. "Then in 1968 I married my sweetheart, Jerry, who loved to fish and my life began to change forever.
"We had met in Muldrow OK, at my Church, Donna began to enlighten as she told of how she met her love when she was just "wee high" "I played the piano and he the guitar, Donna noted with a gleam in her eye, "Then in my High School years when I was just "yay high" Donna grinned, "We began dating, "But my dad was very strict on me so we had to exchange notes and letters for a while until after graduating where we then married and moved to Arkansas.

"Jerry enjoyed fishing a whole bunch, Donna informed, "And he wanted me to go fishing with him all the time, "Which I didn't mind", but he also wanted me to fish the entire time I was out there with him, "But, Donna stated, "I always managed to take a book with me just in case the fish weren't biting. "But for a time there, Donna advised, "After our daughter was old enough, Jerry and her would spend their time fishing together as I'd stay home to read or work around the house.

"Then in 1989 I began fishing in men's and ladies bass tournaments, which I found to be very exciting, "Then, Donna added to my notebook, "A Lady Bass Tournament came to Millwood AR, and I decided to fish in it and I've been fishing ever since............... End of story? .....Nope!!......

"Once I fished my first Lady Bass tournament event where I only finished in 80th place, Donna grinned, "I really fell in love with the competition part of it as I began to crave that competitive edge. "Cindy Caperton of Tennessee was my first team partner as we fished a "very hot" and hazy summer day, which saw me pass-out from the heat in Cindy's boat, "Scared the dickens out of Cindy fer-sure, Donna laughed, "And Cindy still talks about that incident back in 1989. "But I just couldn't seem to get enough of that type of fishing and just kept coming back for more until I finally earned the Lady Bass "Rookie of the Year" title. "Then in 1990 I began fishing the National Bass N' Gal Circuit as well, "Winning my 1st National title on Bob Sandlin in Texas, then going on to become a three time Lady Bass Classic Contender, a one time Bass n' Gal Classic Contender (finished 3rd), A Lady Bass National Champion in 1990 and Bass N' Gal National Champion in 1997 and finally winning the Women's Bass Fishing Association World Championship title in 1999. "I have had several top 10 finishes in my short Bass fishing career, Donna enlightened, "Which saw seven (7) bass boats awarded to me so far.

"My '99 World Championship title came about while fishing the Red River near Marksville, LA, Donna noted, "Where I managed to make a move from my 5th place lead after first day competition, then taking the Championship win with a three day spinner-bait and crank-bait catch of 26.92 lbs. "Daily tournament limits became the key to that World Championship Title, Donna advised, "As she went on to praise the Lord for her good fortune.

"Funny incident? ... "Well, let me think on that a bit, Donna pondered, "OH YEAH" she recalled with a stuttering giggle, "It had to be when I was practice fishing at Lake Seminole Florida for an upcoming Bass N' Gal tournament. "We had just passed a huge Alligator that was laying out on the bank sunning itself, Donna remembered, "When my lure got tangled up in some reeds, "So when I leaned way out from the boat to try and pull it free from the entanglement I suddenly lost my balance and "KA-SPLASH" in I went, "I mean t'tell ya now, "Visions of that gator coming after me put me into an INSTANT-PANIC mode with water splashing and me screaming, but my team partner managed to grab and haul me back into the boat in RECORD TIME. "Thank the Lord that big critter was still stretched out on the bank, Donna recalled with a grin, "But I swear that big gator now had HUGE GRIN wrapped clear around its toothy jowls!!

"I first took an interest in fishing the Men's bass fishing events with the Red Man Golden Blend circuit and local Country Boy tournaments back in 1989, "But had always wanted to compete in the BASSMaster events, "So, Donna informed, "Jerry gave me the go-ahead and this became my first year of fishing with "The Big League". "But, I'm not alone in doing this, Donna pointed out, "As Judy Wong of Sugarland TX, Janice Arnold and Lucy Mize of Arkansas, along with a few other women bass anglers have decided to give it a try to hopefully win a National BASS tournament, and maybe even eventually qualify for a future BASSMaster World Classic Championship. "Now wouldn't that be something, Donna Newberry noted with great pleasure, "Having a woman bass angler winning the BassMaster World Classic!!??"

"My personal advice for any woman who wants to give bass fishing a try and even maybe learn to fish on the competitive levels would be to start at the club entry level first and if you're not a boat owner, then join as a non-boater where you can start working your way up from there until you feel comfortable enough to try competing at a higher level, such as fishing the Woman's Bass Fishing Association. The WBFA, Donna informed, "Will be holding a National tournament event on Lake Toledo Bend, at Cypress Bend Resort on May 16, 17, 18, this year. "And even if you don't fish, Donna advised, "Come on down to the tournament site and watch the women bass fishing anglers as they arrive to weigh-in there daily bass catches. "This will also give you an opportunity to chat with those woman bass/pros, such as myself, to find out what it's all about and to see if you really want to give bass tournaments a try. "Never say never, advised the wife of thirty three years, mother of two, grandmother of four, and 1999 WBFA World Bass Champion, "Or you'll never really know what you can accomplish, "And with God as your life's team/partner, praised a very happy Donna Newberry, "You can do just about anything you want to set your goal for........... "AMEN"

"Fishin-pals" Donna hugs up to CAST child- Ciera Gordon of Kirbeyville, TX.

Newberry weighing her BASS efforts at the Rayburn Central Invitational
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Donna landing a "picture-perfect" Rayburn bass

Catching & landing brush bass- "no-prob" for Donna Newberry

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