Danielle McRae wins on the Red River. This was the last scheduled Lady Bass Anglers Association, LBAA, tournament of the season. As an avid bass angler, I was drawn to the event to watch the weigh-in and learn how they did after the Forrest Wood Cup pounded the same waters
It never fails; someone always manages to find those elusive green fish we love so much. From a Sunday Fruit Jar to the Bass Master Classic, the thrill of the hunt and competitive spirit is why we do what we do. The Lady’s of the L.B.A.A. are no different; I mean, why should they be? Unfortunately, some can’t get past the fact there are women in a bass boat. These ladies are every bit as passionate about this sport as you or I, in many cases more so.
It is this very reason I love fishing as much as I do. I was raised to believe we all have the freedom to chase our dreams, no matter what they are. My dream was to join the Air Force. In doing so, I’ve been to several places around the world that just don’t have the freedoms we often take for granted. Seeing the L.B.A.A. and the anglers who make up this great trail come to my back yard and fish the same waters as the Bass Master Classic and Forrest Wood Cup, well, it does this old vets heart some good.
Danielle McRae was the one to find the fish this time, 27.75 pounds worth; no small feat following the immense fishing pressure of the FLW Cup and the late summer heat. Her 14 pound day one and 12 pound day two sacks secured her victory, a birth to the L.B.A.A. Classic and possibly crowned Rookie of the Year as well.
This was another first for McRae, her 1st year in the L.B.A.A. and now her first win. One thing that wasn’t new for her was being named the Rookie of the Tournament; this was her third title in the past four events. How very fitting she finished up a great year right here on her home water, taking first place among 21 other competitors.
McRae works as a Physical Therapist for Southland Home Health which she credits for her freedom to fish the L.B.A.A. and the ability to pre-fish here on the Red as much as she did. This was a hard earned win, pre-fishing from early dawn until she had to be at work at 1pm each day. Her strategy paid off when she located a small 70-75 yard stretch that had everything she needed for this event.
So how did she do it? McRae says finding where to fish and building a plan around that was just the start. Without her Legend Boat and Mercury Motor she couldn’t get there day after day. This stretch of water was a ledge with a nice 1’ to 7’ drop, holding the fish on shallow wood with vegetation and deep water right next to it. This gave the bass options depending on conditions. They could come shallow to feed or pull out to deep water and suspend. The key was putting her V&M Red Shad Wild Thing with a ¼ ounce weight in a position the bass would eat it.
To get them out she praised the 17lbs Pro Elite line by Vicious. When the bites slowed, McRae would switch baits and swapped between the Wild Thing and V&M Swamp Hog in Green Pumpkin or Watermelon Candy. Not only did she find the winning fish for this event, but the quality showed through when her day 2 Co-Angler, Alisa Johnson, brought in a 7.75 pound Red River Hog. Even with a Pro like Danielle at the front of the boat, you just never know what that next cast will bring. Danielle’s sportsmanship was apparent each day as she thanked her sponsors, Legend, Mercury, V&M, Vicious Line, Leopard Lighting, Bass Boat Saver and Pixel Town. However, she rose above the pack when she shared her honest excitement as Alisa Johnson brought her 7.75 pound bass to the scales. As hard as it can be to watch someone catch a large bass behind you, it’s even more difficult in a tournament; however, Danielle was proud of Alisa and worked as hard getting the bass in the net as if it would have been her own. This was a true testament to the sportsmanship all these ladies hold dear.
While talking with Danielle on the phone after the event I stated; “With this being your first year in the L.B.A.A.; then being credited with Rookie of the event 3 out of 4 tournaments, and now finishing up with a win here on the Red.” I asked, “How excited are you looking forward to 2014?” I then learned what I should have known all along from her answer, “I hope to be back” She went on to explain; “It costs a good bit traveling to each event: March we were in Gadsden, Alabama/Lake Neely Henry, May it was Hendersonville, TN on Old Hickory, July brought us to Dayton, TN on Lake Chickamauga, and we just finished up here in September with the Red River. Next month, October 17-20, I’ll be in Garland, Texas on Lake Ray Hubbard. Not only will I be taking more time off work, but while on the road things add up. I couldn’t have made it this year without the support of my sponsors and my family. I mean, gas costs me the same to drive to an event and fill up the boat as it does everyone else; food, lodging, repairs…it all adds up and adds up fast. Right now I’m focused on the Classic and have to see what next year holds.”
Her statement hit home for me. We all have to budget for things in life; the L.B.A.A. anglers are no different. Without sponsor support or deep pockets, fishing these or any National events are a gamble at best. The Women need sponsors; the sponsors need exposure to increase sales because as Danielle said “it costs me as much to fill up my boat day after day as the next man.” When you hear the L.B.A.A. is in your neck of the woods, take time to see the event. Take your Wife, Daughter, Niece, Mom or one of your angler buddies, cheer them on and pay attention because you will learn a thing or two; yes, even from a girl.
Sadly, with highs come lows, the day after McRae’s big win on the Red her dog, a seven year-old miniature Schnauzer, “Bayleigh”, who had been sick, passed away early in the morning. Man or Woman, we all have our ups and downs. I for one wish all the women in fishing the very best and thank them for reminding me we all have the ability to chase our dreams. To Danielle McRae, I’d like to say thank you for providing me the inside view to the Red River. I want to wish you luck in both LBAA Rookie of the Year title and maybe a 2nd win at the championship event on Lake Ray Hubbard in Dallas in October.
Fishing Never Felt So Good!