It’s the Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship, Pam has a 21 point lead going into it for the Angler of the Year, which if you are the AOY for the WBT you get a berth into the Bassmaster Classic! So you can only guess what was on Pam’s mind, or maybe not? Pam was fishing to win, just like she always does. Sure the AOY was in the back of her mind but on the water, winning was all that she concentrated on. While her husband Steve was at the launch ramp calculating all the possible scenarios all three days, who had to beat who and by how much, Pam was focused on winning and then all of that wouldn’t matter.
Pam had a great game plan going into this event, she had pre fished well and the red river was just her style… then the Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship was changed to Cypress Black Bayou, a lake none of the competitors had fished much less even seen. With only one day to pre fish, she had to find quality fish quickly. Pam said that she had found fish pretty much all over the lake, “catching them wasn’t a problem, catching one over the slot was the problem!”
Turns out her key spot was on the south side of the levee and bridge that separates the north and south side of the lake. Just so happens that Judy Wong was on the north side of this same levee and bridge. For most of the tournament Pam and Judy were with in sight of each other and both running a crankbait pattern for the most part.
Cypress Black Bayou had been in a drawdown prior to this event and was 8 feet low, for this little lake that was about half the total water. Just a week before the tournament Northwest Louisiana received torrential amounts of rainfall, in excess of 8 inches in some places, basically filling the impoundment back up to over flood stage in a matter of 4 days.
Pam’s pre fishing consisted of running the small 800 acre lake looking for the most water movement. She knew that the bass would stack up in areas that had the most current and just wait for the bait fish to come to them. The bridge at the levee is only 50 yards wide and is a major bottle-neck between the two halves; it is also a “no wake” zone. As she was idling under the bridge she noticed several things. First there was a mud line between the two halves of the lake, second because of the bottle-neck it would create the kind of current situation she was looking for, and lastly her Lowrance exploded with fish arches and bait fish. She stopped to fish it and within just a few minutes she shook three fish off and left it, knowing she was going to start the event there.
Day one of championship she started on her point and quickly put a limit in the boat with a H2O crankbait bumping it off of a small rock point at the bridge in 10 ft of water. As the day progressed she followed up with a senko type soft plastic. Coming to the scales with 13-5 she was in second place by two pounds, well within striking distance of winning.
On day two she returned to her “cord wood pile” of fish and repeated her day one game plan. This time however, her bigger fish were not biting as well. With a smaller limit in the boat she went looking for larger fish in the north end of the lake. Finding plenty of fish, she said the slot limit was brutal and she just couldn’t put the over 17 inch fish in the boat like she needed. Pam said, “You have no idea how hard it is to have to throw back so many 3 pound fish because they are a quarter of an inch short”. Pam went on to say that she caught countless amounts of fish that were in the slot, “while it may be fun fishing, it will drive you crazy in a championship event like this!”
On the final day of the tournament Pam was still sitting in second place. However she was over 8 pounds behind the leader Judy Wong. On this small impoundment that is not very hard to make up, however because of the small impoundment going into the last day the fish were really beat up. Pam hit the lake and went straight for her sweet spot on the bridge only to realize that the current in the lake had basically stopped. About 10 am she also realized that her Lowrance was showing a blank white screen, all of the bait fish and bass were gone! As she didn’t have a keeper fish in the boat, she decided to run to the far northern part of the lake to a channel she had found in practice in hopes that there would still be some current there. She said, “Again, no current. It was like all the water in the area just stopped moving. I still worked the couple cuts that had held fish the previous days but only one small keeper”. After the disappointing move, Pam went back to the bridge about 12:30, with only a couple hours left to fish and needing to better Judy by eight pounds she put everything she had left into her spot on the bridge. In those couple hours she managed 3 more under the slot keepers and in the last twenty minutes of the tournament Pam boated an over the slot fish that went 5 pounds and some change. Now with a limit and knowing Judy only had 12-14 inch fish (because they were close enough to see and talk with each other), Pam came to weigh in with a big smile!
Pam’s final day weight was 9-9 giving her a three day total of 31-11 pounds, falling short of Judy by right at 5 pounds. Pam said, “Second is cool, but yesterday I didn’t have my four overs and again today I didn’t have a limit of overs, just one more good fish and I am there”. While she was slightly disappointed in not winning, she now was very excited about winning Angler of the Year. When I asked if she was looking forward to fishing the Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake, she smiled – gave a thumbs up – and mentioned that she had won the BASS-N-GALS tournament there a few years ago, and won the Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship held on the river impoundment right next to it the last time the Classic was there!
Pam Martin-Wells is a true competitor in every sense of the word. Working hard for her goals and never quitting until she reaches them. Pam said, “This is a dream of mine and Steve’s (her husband) and now it has come true. Good Lord willing (because without him I wouldn’t be here) we will continue to do well”
On a side note, while I was talking with Pam several folks came up to shake her hand. One lady in particular told Pam she wanted to do this and was going to try a local tournament and asked Pam for a pointer or two. Pam told her, “Be careful! When I started I was only going to fish ONE! and I have never looked back since”. She did offer up some thoughts and ideas to the lady. Pam Martin-Wells is great people in my book!