Angler of the Year

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016


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As the stress and pressure of life increased this year, Pam Martin-Wells found peace on the water.

“This year’s been very emotionally and mentally challenging,” Martin-Wells said. “In January my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer… Back and forth with my mom all year and various other things with the family, it has just been a very challenging year. With all that going on it kind of put things in perspective. I love to fish. It’s my passion, but there’s more important things.”

Her love for fishing didn’t change, but she no longer felt as much pressure to win. Her once all-encompassing drive to win was replaced with a sense of ease as she just enjoyed her time fishing.

“I went into it with a lot easier mindset,” Martin-Wells said. “With everything that’s gone on I went to have fun. If it was going to be it was going to be. I didn’t put pressure on myself as much.”

With her more relaxed attitude came the best results of her 27-year professional fishing career. She won three of the four tournaments on the LBAA Women’s Pro Bass Tour and finished second in the only one she didn’t win.

From her very first cast of the season on Lake Hartwell, the season was a success and it continued through the final tournament of the year on Bull Shoals Lake.

“My first cast, I put one almost four-pounds in the boat,” Martin-Wells said. “From there it was one of those special deals. I could just ride down the lake and go ‘we’ll catch one over there’ and we pull over there and catch one.”

On Bull Shoals, with the angler of the year title on the line, she decided to break with conventional wisdom and fish her way.

“It’s a mountain lake so it’s really deep and really clear,” Martin-Wells said. “I went up there practicing and it just wasn’t working. I’m just not comfortable fishing 50-feet deep. I pretty much just threw everything down and said I’m going to fish my way. I got out my 65-pound braid, which is unheard of in a very clear lake, and a frog and I went to the bank.”

The dock talk had said that the fish would no longer be near the bank as the water level was quickly falling.

“I went and played my game,” she said. “They really liked that frog and I was having a lot of fun.”

Her way worked as she won the tournament and claimed her eighth angler of the year award.

“It’s been an incredible, incredible year,” Martin-Wells said. “That would have to be the best year so far. I had three wins and I won Angler of the Year this year. It was an incredible year. You just don’t have those kinds of years very often.

Before this year she would get tunnel vision on the water and let her performance on the water effect her long after the tournament ended.

“There’s been many times my husband says that if I don’t do well in a tournament it makes for a long rise home, because I’m just so hard on myself,” Martin-Wells said. “Nothing else exists around me or it used to. This year I spent a lot of time praying for my mama and other things. It just was different.”

This year she had no reason to be upset on rides home as she dominated the competition and had fun while doing it.

Martin-Wells will compete in the LBAA Classic Oct. 20-22 on Old Hickory Lake in Nashville. As the best year of her career comes to an end she has many goals left to accomplish.  Professionally she hopes to get another chance to fish in the BassMaster Classic as she did in 2010, but her bigger goals are outside of competition.

“Right now my biggest goal is to share my passion of fishing with everybody, but especially with kids,” Martin-Wells said. 

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