The first American Lady Anglers (ALA) Event, held on Saturday, July 3, 2010 at Lake Fork Marina and Motel, is now in the books. The intrepid participants who chose to brave the intermittent bands of showers spawned by Hurricane Alex enjoyed a memorable day-long extravaganza with something for everyone. The two most-voiced comments, heard repeatedly by the organizers were, “I had a great time, this tournament was the most fun of any tournament I’ve ever been in,” and “I’ll definitely be back for next year’s event”. The ALA had two goals in organizing the Independence Day Celebration. The primary goal was to throw a huge party to celebrate the holiday and honor the military veterans past and present who make it possible for all Americans to celebrate their Independence on this day, and the second was to hold a small, “get-your-feet-wet” event to try out all of the new equipment and work out any potential problems before the big Inaugural Tournament in September. The idea, creators say, is similar to opening a store before the Grand Opening, to work out all of the kinks.
The event started bright and early with a morning fishing tournament. From first cast at 6 am until the weigh-in at 11 am, the teams competed for both cash and prizes. First place honors went to uncle and nephew team Paul and Garrett Pearson, who also won the Big Bass Pot. Friends Cameron Burnett and Jonathan Lancaster won second place honors, weighing in at only three hundredths of an ounce behind the winners. Judy Skibinski and Cora Barker, both new ALA Charter members, won third place. Specialty prizes added to the festivities, with Hollie Brown taking the “Smallest Legal Fish” award. The award was a beautiful pink Ladies’ rod donated by CastAway rods, especially for this tournament. Liz Sanders and Linda Owens also each took home beautiful pink CastAway Ladies’ rods, winning the prize for coming the longest distance to fish in the event. Although there were anglers coming from Louisiana, Liz and Linda won by coming all the way from Brandon, Mississippi to join us at the Lake Fork event. Brandy Roughton, Vice President of CastAway Rods, brought her family to enjoy the event, along with multiple rods donated by her company for the event. She also brought copies of the companies’ freshly-printed new catalog, featurning CastAway’s new technology which will be highlighted in the rods they are taking to ICAST.
Immediately after the weigh-in concluded, several commemorative plaques were awarded by the American Lady Anglers. The first was a post humus Award given to Dorothy Jean Watkins, honorary American Lady Angler Charter Member Number One. Rod Baker, ALA Founder and Firecracker Fish-Off Tournament Director, emceed the event and said of Dorothy Jean. “She was the original Lady Angler and always fishing. When the WBT visited Old Hickory Lake in 2009, we met her son Dave Watkins, a guide at Old Hickory. He was out fishing with his mother and every few minutes would come up to him and say, ’I’m hung up!’ and Dave would patiently go and get her unstuck, all the while fishing and talking. She was a local fixture and everyone would drive by and honk at her as she fished.” The next plaque went to Tim Walker, winner of last year’s Firecracker Fish-Off. As winner of the event, Tim was granted free entry into the tournament this year. The plaque, commissioned and completed after last year’s event, and has been gracing the walls of Moser’s Restaurant for the patrons to comment on since that time. The Model A Fords swept the Classic Car Competition, and no clear winner could be determined. The People’s Choice Award was therefore split between the two Model A Fords, and a second People’s Choice Award will be given so that both Model A Ford owners will receive their plaque. The Mavericks Motorcycle Club swept into the marina with mufflers rumbling, to the applause of the crowd gathered for the weigh-in ceremonies. Fans immediately gravitated to the motorcycle display, after emcee Rod Baker explained the voting procedure. After a heated competition, Motorcycle #4 won the People’s Choice Award. It was a close contest between the winner and Motorcycle #9, another clear crowd favorite. After the Motorcycle competition convened, the Mavericks Motorcycle Club convened to President Steve Glenn’s house for a Commemorative Cook Out to celebrate their success, so that they could rest and regroup for the Fireworks Event later.
Reel Girls Fish, owned by ALA Sponsor Denise Sustiata, brought an entire trailer full of new products to display and sell to fans at the event. Denise’s Bass Caddy husband Larry received an official ALA Bass Caddy shirt as a thank-you from event organizers for all of the effort he put into helping out for the entire event. From dawn ‘til dusk, Larry lifted, toted, and in general did anything and everything he could to help out at both the Reel Girls booth and throughout the event grounds. Not only did the Reel Girls Booth display beautiful tee shirts and camisoles with both bling and originality, they treated customers by displaying on-site production of their wares. Customers could custom-order their individual preferences and watch while Denise made the magic happen and produce the order to their exact specifications. ALA member Terri Elkins is now a proud owner of a beautiful Reel Girls black camisole, with a beautiful aqua blue design. Other booths selling their wares included Impressions and More, and the ALA even got into the act displaying their new patches, decals, hats, visors and tee shirts. Also displayed were potential future products for fan feedback, such as sports bras and camisoles. Families and Fans dispersed indoors during heavy rain showers brought during afternoon hours, with the rain letting up just as the evening activities were scheduled to begin.
Word quickly spread throughout the Lake Fork Marina that the show would go on as planned, and people began emerging from cover. A crowd quickly gathered to delight in the decorated golf carts, all of which showed a definite patriotic theme. Lee White emceed the event, awarding prizes donated by Lake Fork Marina to the winners of four categories: Most Patriotic, Most Original, Best Decorated, and Crowd Favorite. The winners gathered to lead the parade in a victory lap around the marina waving their prizes to the appreciative crowd, to the accompaniment of air horns and crowd applause. After the laughter died down, everyone was ready to view the fireworks, donated by the American Lady Anglers for the event. Not only did people gather at the marina, but boats also gathered off the point where the fireworks were set up, to better view the fireworks from the water. In deference to the wet ground and recent showers, organizers had to forego the planned musical accompaniment, but the collective crowd spirit could not be dampened as the Fireworks Extravaganza ensued. For over 30 minutes, multiple bursts of remote-detonated fireworks continued to evoke appreciative applause, along with whistles and other vocal kudos. It wasn’t enough that each fireworks display used 500 grams of gunpowder, the maximum allowable for sale in the United States. Steve Nail and Rod Baker, the masterminds behind the display design wired four different types of fireworks together for each burst, ensuring that the crowd received the full “bang for their buck” for each burst. The sky was literally filled with continuous fireworks bursts for the entirety of the event, culminating in a Grand Finale lasting for over ten minutes. Fans, friends and families attending the 2010 ALA Firecracker Fish-Off all went home sleepy and satisfied, after a full day filled with fun finished off by the Fireworks Display Finale.
The ALA would like to thank Sponsors Lake Fork Marina, Reel Girls Fish, CastAway Graphite Rods, Sure-Life, Impressions & More, Steve’s Custom Props, along with all of the local businesses who donated for the 2010 ALA Firecracker Fish-Off. A big thank you goes out to Brookshire’s Grocery Store, Hooten’s Hardware, Emory Auto, Tim Walker’s Bait Shop, Steve’s Custom Props, Pott’s Feed Store, OnSite Trolling Motor Service, Service Marine, and Alco for donating items for the raffle. A special thanks to the Classic Car Club and the Mavericks Motorcycle Club for their participation.
About the ALA: The American Lady Anglers (ALA), founded by Rod Baker, husband and bass caddy of former WBT Pro Dr. Terri Elkins, and Lake Fork Fishing Guide Lee White, gives all women the opportunity to fish on an even playing field. Standard ALA events consist of both the Co/Pro Individual and Team Tournaments in which the full field of entrants compete for two days in each. Ladies may enjoy the fun and camaraderie the ALA provides while fishing in either one or both tournaments. ALA benefits include offering the highest paybacks possible for the lowest entry fees, along with increased media attention to promote both the anglers and their Sponsors.
The ALA also hosts specialty events, such as its season-opening Firecracker Fish-Off, an Independence Day Benefit Tournament honoring a specific military charity each year. Like other ALA specialty events, The Firecracker Fish-Off is not just for ladies; the entire family can fish. With the ALA, fishing is not only a family affair, it’s fun for everyone, the anglers, their families, their friends, and their fans. Sponsors Lake Fork Marina, Sure Life, Reel Girls Fish and CastAway Graphite Rods share the ALA ideals and support their charitable and other service ventures.