WBT Stop #3, Day Three – Old Hickory Lake

BASS Communications

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. — Dianna Clark, the 2006 Toyota Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year, pulled out of her 2008 season slump Saturday by landing her third victory in the Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors, trumping the field by almost 8 pounds.

Over three days of competition on Tennessee’s Old Hickory Lake, the Bumpus Mills, Tenn., pro brought in 36 pounds, 5 ounces of largemouth bass, mostly from one shallow area of the lengthy Cumberland River impoundment.

Angie Douthit of Clewiston, Fla., persevering through flu-like symptoms that stemmed from a tooth infection, finished second with a three-day total of 28-8.

“I’m back on track — hopefully,” said Clark, who in 2006 won twice and captured the AOY title, and who ranked eighth in the 2007 season’s points standings — but was in 57th place in this season’s AOY points race before the Old Hickory event. “I had a rocky start this year. I had some family issues to deal with, but still, I have no excuses. I knew I was going to have to work hard here to catch up.”

In the season-long Toyota Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year standings, Clark will certainly improve on her disappointing position. The winner of the points race will score two big prizes this year: a Toyota Tundra and a berth in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 20-22 on the Red River out of Shreveport/Bossier City, La. The points race also will determine the 20 qualifiers for the Oct. 23-25 WBT Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton.

Kim Bain of Alabaster, Ala., will hold on to the top position, with the sixth-place showing she scored at Old Hickory. She will need to hold off a number of accomplished pros to secure the prestigious Classic berth and her first AOY title. Full standings can be viewed at Bassmaster.com.

Clark placed 55th in the 2008 season opener on Texas’ Lake Lewisville — site of one of her two 2006 wins. At the Neely Henry Lake event in Alabama, she finished in 66th place, an all-time low for Clark, who switched to pro fishing in 1996 after a U.S. Army career, retiring with the rank of staff sergeant.

With the victory, Clark took home a $50,000 Triton/Mercury boat package and $1,000. She committed to a long run east from the Hendersonville launch site to target largemouth that were feasting on bream in the shallows of a muddy flat. She said many of her fish took a bait made by B&M Jigs, a 1/2-ounce, camo-colored skirted jig tipped with a green-pumpkin Flipper, a plastic trailer made by Lake Fork Trophy Lures.

Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, who ended with 27-13 and third place, discovered the same sweet spot in practice early in the week, but yielded it to Clark.

Robinson said she hit other productive spots, trying to build her weight and her points total in the 2008 AOY race. She was in fourth place in points going into the Old Hickory event.

“The most important thing for me in this tournament to move up in the points standings and get closer to first place,” Robinson said. “Second in importance was winning this tournament.”

Douthit also stands to improve in her points total after scoring her second-place finish Saturday, her best tournament finish.

“I caught some really good fish cranking a Rapala Down Deep, chartreuse and blue,” she said. “When the current wasn’t running, I went to my backup — back into the bays, the areas most people can’t get to. The fish were around brush and wood, shallow, but close to deeper water.”

She said her main lures included a Gene Larew Ringtail 7 1/2-inch red-shad Texas-rigged worm, a Gambler tube — a pumpkin pepper chartreuse color — pegged with a 1/8-ounce rattle weight, and a Jim Eakin’s 3/16-ounce black-and-blue jig tipped with a Gene Larew 4-inch black-and-blue Salt Craw.

Finishing fourth with 27-2 was Tammy Richardson of Glenwood, Ark., the only WBT pro to have three wins on her WBT record before Clark’s Saturday win. Patti Campbell of Waxahachie, Texas, was fifth with 26-5.

In the co-angler division, the winner was Elizabeth “Liz” Havens, a high-school math teacher from Austin, Texas, who put together 21 pounds, 4 ounces to win a Skeeter/Yamaha rig valued at $25,000. The Old Hickory tournament was her first on the WBT trail.

Second in the co-angler division was Stacey Zhelesnik of Hoboken, N.J. Her 20-10 total included a 5 pound, 1-ounce largemouth that fell for a KVD Strike King Redeye Shad in the Tennessee shad finish. Zhelesnik, co-owner of a restaurant, also took second place in last month’s WBT event in Alabama.

Rounding out the top five in the co-angler competition were Dianna Montgomery of Lebanon, Tenn., with 17-12; Sharon Lawson of Red Bank, Tenn., with 14-9; and Petra Ramsey of El Paso, Texas, with 13-14.

Next up for the Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors is the Sept. 18-20 event out of Evans, Ga., on Clarks Hill Lake. The season concludes with the Oct. 23-25 WBT Championship on Lake Hamilton out of Hot Springs, Ark.

Sponsors of the Women’s Bassmaster Tour include Academy Sports & Outdoors, Toyota Tundra, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance, Mercury, Skeeter, Yamaha, OPTIMA Batteries, Triton Boats, Legend Boats, MoGills and Mustang.

Local hosts include the Sumner County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Holiday Inn Express of Hendersonville

Stop No. 3
2008 Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors
Old Hickory Lake
Hendersonville, Tenn.
June 19-21, 2008

83 pros, 83 co-anglers/observers
Cut to the top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers after Day 2