Wells holds her own in Classic

Published 8:19 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The top 50 bass anglers in the world participated in the Super Bowl of bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic, this past weekend on the waters of Lay Lake, Ala.

One of those 50 anglers was Bainbridge resident Pam Martin-Wells.

She beat out more than 160 other women to take first place in the Women’s Bassmaster Tour (WBT) in the 2009 Season, which gave her an automatic berth into the 2010 Bassmaster Classic—making her only the second woman in history to fish a Bassmaster Classic.

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But, it wasn’t exactly easy sailing at the tournament for Wells, unseasonably cold temperatures brought along something she wasn’t very used to—not catching fish. Old man winter also blew in 5 inches of snow on day one of practice, something Wells had never experienced.

“The whole front of my boat was covered in snow on the first day of practice. It was the first time I’d ever fished in snow. I didn’t even get a bite for the first two days, but I found some fish on Sunday and I stuck with them,” she said.

Wells didn’t care that she was the only woman fishing in a field of 50 anglers, she was on a mission.

“Every tournament I enter, I enter to win,” she said. And though she only placed 22nd in the end, it’s still quite a feat for anyone.

Every angler that qualifies takes home a $10,000 check just for qualifying for the tournament.

Wells caught most of her fish in the backwaters of creeks on shaky head worms and jigs. The fish were concentrated in the creeks and didn’t have far they could go, said Wells.

“When it gets tough, I just go back to the basics,” she said.

Wells was the first angler of the entire tournament to catch a five-fish limit on both of the first two days and placed high enough on the second day to make it into the final day of the tournament while the bottom 25 anglers could only watch from the dock.

“I’m pleased with 22nd, you know. Look at the caliber of people I was fishing against. Even if I never made a cast, I took home $10,000.” she said.

Wells caught a three-day, 15-fish limit of 25.0 pounds, which put her just on top of Dean Rojas in 23rd place with 24 pounds, 7 ounces.

Already two-time winner Kevin VanDam took home his third Classic first-place trophy and a $500,000 first-place check with a monstrous weight of 51 pounds, 6 ounces, beating second place by 5 pounds even.

Being the only woman in a sport dominated by men might seem scary to some, but Wells said the men treated her just like one of the guys.

“I’ve known a lot of these guys for a long time, and there was a genuine mutual respect. I had a bunch congratulate me on making it, and I got a lot of high fives and ‘good lucks’ after I made the cut for the final day. It was all a great deal.”

The WBT tour was canceled after last year, but Wells said she will continue to fish the B.A.S.S. open tournaments just like she has been for the past three years.

“It’ll be tougher to get back in the Classic, because of the sheer numbers of people I have to beat, but I’m going to try to make it back. If I don’t make it next year, I’ll just keep trying the next,” she said.