Those of us who were lucky enough to be watching the 6:pm report of the National News one evening in October were treated with ABC giving a full five minute report on "Bass Tournaments" becoming a popular "spectator sport". The video report gave some insight on the elevation of the Bass Tournaments today, reporting that there were now over "50,000 tournaments being held throughout our nation annually, with awards being paid out that now exceeded Millions of dollars in cash & prizes. Peter Jennings also reported that the weekend fishing trip, which at one time awarded only a trophy and a handshake to its winners, has now grown into a main-stream sportfishing industry which now draws major spectator crowds at all of its national fishing tournament events and pays out some "serious bucks" to its winning bass competitiors, where, a fulltime touring bass/pro can now earn $56,000 -AND UP- per year for their fishing efforts. Jennings further stated that todays Professional Bass Anglers stand a chance of earning "six digit" incomes in sponsorship fees and tournament winnings. "He also reported that National Circuit bass fishing tournaments are quickly becoming more popular than Golf & Tennis combined, as national tournaments are now attracting the interest of the National Media with primetime television coverages.
"This makes me recall the rather ugly report that was written by a Shreveport newspaper sports editor, who, not too many years ago, made the statement that Bass Tournaments "and" bass tournament anglers, would never make it as a national sport due to the fact that it takes eye and hand coordination to develope as a spectator sport. "Ya'll remember that remark-?- ............"I do!!!
Among those national bass Pro's, who fish and compete in the national circuits are the female gender of that touring faction, which have just finished with their National Championship on the Red River in Marksville La. The following report was provided by WBFA for that event-
Women's Bass Fishing Association (WBFA)
Newberry Wins World Championship of Women's Bass Fishing
by Ortha Barham
Saturday, October 16,1999 - Marksville, LA .... Donna Newberry, an Arkansas angler from Van Buren, took home a fully rigged Triton bass boat along with first place honors in the Women's Bass Fishing Association (WBFA) Classic World Championship here today. She weighed in 10.94 lbs., the second largest stringer of the day and not only held the lead she established on Friday, but pushed ahead to win by more than 4 lbs. Her tournament total was 26.92 lbs. "I felt confident coming into this Classic," said the perennial top ten finisher. "I used crankbaits all week but the bite was strange. I had a limit by 11 o'clock the first day and Friday's limit all came after noon. Then today I caught 2 limits and culled all day."
Sylvia Graham of Valparaiso, Indiana finished in 2 nd place with a total for the event of 22.72 pounds. "I caught my practice fish on a worm and when the tournament started that bite had ended," she revealed. "It was tedious fishing, but I caught fish each day with a crankbait using an erratic retrieve."
Bernice Wilkes of Moultrie, Georgia claimed 3 rd place by landing 22.33 lbs. During the three competition days. "I fished a crankbait and Texas rigged worms," Wilkes said. "I had a big bass break my line on a crankbait."
Fourth place was claimed by Kathi Hurst of Ripley, Mississippi. "I speeded up my retrieve with the Carolina rig today and caught one more keeper fish than yesterday," she said. Sonya Mahaffey, a Tulsa, Oklahoma resident rounded out the top 5 Classic finishers.
Ray Scott, founder of Bass Angler's Sportsman Society (BASS) and the national figurehead of bass fishing, served as Master of Ceremonies for Friday's weigh-in as well as the final weigh-in on Saturday. The week's highlight took place on Saturday when Ray Scott announced the 1999 World Champion of Women's Bass Fishing, Donna Newberry.
The elite anglers fished the Red River for three competition days after three days of practice fishing for the World Championship event. Bass fishing fans enjoyed daily weigh-ins along with a WBFA Expo in the Mari Center at the Grand Casino Avoyelles in Marksville. Free concerts were enjoyed each tournament day.
The WBFA Tour Outdoors Expo featured displays and booths by outdoor industry manufacturers and retailers. Dealers displayed a large selection of Triton boats along with other outdoor products.. The Classic Expo promoter, Bob Keast of Camden, Tennessee's Heavyweight Promotions said, "This event, coupled with Ray Scott and the women's tournament will leave a lasting impression on those who attended."
The Tunica-Biloxi Indians of Louisiana d.b.a., the Grand Casino Avoyelles and the Central Louisiana Electric Company (CLECO) hosted the prestigious WBFA Classic in concert with the City of Marksville.
The 31 anglers qualifying for the 1999 WBFA Classic World Championship came from 16 states, representing a wide cross section of women bassing enthusiasts. They have many industry sponsors.
Sponsors of the WBFA Tour are Mercury, Triton Boats, Humminbird Electronics, Deka Batteries, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, Magellan GPS, Spiderwire, Minn Kota, Mitchell Rods and Reels, KicknBass Scents and Eidolon Bait Company.
The WBFA Rookie of the Year Betty Stahl of Summerville, Georgia, Amateur of the Year Ann Milligan of Tallahassee, Florida and Angler of the Year Sherrie Brubaker of Westlake, Louisiana were each honored during the Classic week with evening banquets. A Saturday evening banquet honored the new champion.
Therewas something for everyone at the final day of the WBFA Classic - a casting contest for kids provided by Spiderwire, autographs and tips from the pros and Ray Scott, free concerts, outdoor gear on display, the excitement of fishing competition among the best anglers anywhere. Classic contenders met bassing fans, signed autographs and shared tips after the weigh-in on Friday.
For more information about the Classic World Championship or how to join the WBFA, contact WBFA Headquarters at WBFA World Classic- contact- (205) 663-5243
Final Results (14-16 October 1999)
1st-AR-DONNA NEWBERRY-( 26.92)- 2nd-IN-SYLVIA GRAHAM-(22.72)- 3rd-GA-BERNICE WILKES-(22.33)-
4th-MS-KATHI HURST-(18.46)- 5th-OK-SONYA MAHAFFEY-(18.41)- 6th-TN-CINDY CAPERTON-(16.49)-
7th-LA-JONELL WHITSTINE-(16.09)- 8th-LA-JANICE CHEEK-(15.96)- 9th-TX- MELODY EDWARDS-(15.44)-
10th-OK-SHERI GLASGOW-(13.66)- 11th-NJ-BARBARA WETZEL-(13.04)- 12th-LA-SHERRIE BRUBAKER-(12.71)-
13th-GA-PAM MARTIN-(12.17)- 14th-AR-JANICE ARNOLD-(12.16)- 15th-AL-LINDA SANDS-(10.99)-
16th-IL-MARY BENGE-(10.89)- 17th-TN-DENISE TURNER-(9.86)- 18th-TX-JUDY WONG-(9.74)-
19th-FL-MARCIA FANN-(9.63)- 20th-TN-EMILY SHAFFER-(9.24)- 21st-KY-MARILYN BISZMAIER-(9.16)-
22nd-OH-DEBBIE TAYLOR-(8.89)- 23rd-AR-PENNY BERRYMAN-(8.63)- 24th-AR-CAROL CRAUN-(0)-
1999 WBFA World Champion-Donna Newberry
< photos by Ed Snyder >
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