As most of you know already Judy Wong won the Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship held on Black Bayou in Benton La. This tournament was scheduled for the famous Red River in the Shreveport / Bossier area, the same venue as the Bassmaster Classic this past February. Due to extremely high water and very unsafe river conditions the Women’s Bassmaster Tour tournament was moved. Imagine the looks on the faces of these ladies when they were told about the change! While most of them expected it they did not expect it to change to a residential lake of a mere 800 acres.
However, everyone jumped at the chance to prove their selves on a reservoir that none of them had seen much less fished. Judy Wong said “We will all have to put to use what we know and have learned about Bass Fishing, and we will have to do it quickly”. She went on to say that, “Not only are we fishing a body of water no one has ever seen but we have to catch fish and manage through a slot limit as well!”
The “Slot Limit” on this lake is 14″ to 17″ and a max creel limit of only 4 over the slot. Any fish caught between the slot has to be released. The official size limit was 12″ to 14″ and over 17″. So the ladies could bring 4 fish over 17 inches and one under 14 inches yet bigger than 12 inches, or any combination that did not include more than 4 bass over 17 inches. This proved to be costly for some of the ladies, in trying to get as close to the 14 inch mark without going over, to get the best weight they could; several fish were bumped by tournament officials. This not only cost the angler the weight of the fish but a 1 pound penalty was assessed.
Judy found a small rock point and stretch of bank line that was holding good numbers of fish. Armed with a shallow diving crankbait and a Garry Yamamoto Senko she hit the water casting and never looked back on that first day, culling by 8:30 in the morning and bringing over 15 pounds to the scales giving her a 2 pound lead over Pam Martin-Wells. Judy found this area during prefish and did not leave it for 3 days of competition. She said, “I was catching so many fish, I just couldn’t bring myself to leave”.
On Day Two Judy hit the water excited about her lead and looking forward to extending it. However in the first hour of fishing she wasn’t catching the same quality of fish that she had the day before. She switched to a Rapala DD-14 and she was back on her fish. I asked her why she thought her fish went deeper. Was it because of the cold front that just came through, because of the pressure that she had put on them the first day, or did the water clear up? She simply said “They weren’t hitting the shallow bait anymore so why not try a deeper one”. At the scales on Day Two Judy Wong bettered her day one catch by 3 ounces with a total of 15-8 stretching her lead even further. Not only did Judy want to win this event as with every angler that made it to the championship but she also had the Angler of the Year race in her sites. Judy knew that she would have to take the lead day one and keep it for the entire tournament in order to get the “10 leader bonus points” per day she would need to over take Pam Martin-Wells who had 55 points lead on her coming into this event. Pam just wouldn’t stumble bringing in better than 9 pounds and holding on to her second place spot at the end of day two.
On Day Three Judy again headed to her honey hole to put what would be the finishing touch on the winning stringer. Although it was not what she expected. Day one and two she was able to cull to a maximum limit of 4 over the slot and one under the slot. This final day she was unable to catch a fish over the slot limit and could only manage 5 fish under the slot limit. However she easily held onto her large lead. On day three her honey hole was running dry, literally. Northwestern Louisiana had been under flood warnings for the week prior to this event and the lake was high, the Cypress Black Bayou water commission was draining the lake to prevent damage to the hundreds of boat docks around the lake, this created the current that had Judy’s fish stacked up for her. On the last day of competition this current had all but quit. In previous days she was catching so many fish she told me she couldn’t keep count. But on the final day it was difficult to get her limit, when she would catch a fish it would fall into the slot. She slowed her presentation dramatically and switched gears from the crankbait to a senko to fill her limit. Bringing just 5-13 pounds to the scale Judy Wong had a three day total of 36-10 and wins the 2009 Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship.
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