Editor's Note: Federal officials have amended an order that prohibited the interstate and international transfer of live fish from states and provinces known to be infected with the deadly Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). BASS took a leadership role in lobbying for the interests of recreational anglers, including those who compete in BASS tournaments throughout the region. Click here to learn more.
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Tammy Richardson of Amity, Ark., became a three-time winner and turned around her 2007 season when she prevailed Saturday at the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats event at Lake Guntersville.
Her tournament total of 50 pounds, 0 ounces gave her a wide margin of victory over Judy Wong of Many, La., who moved up the leaderboard from 18th on Day 1 to 8th on Day 2, then finished in second with 41-11.
The first-place prize was a Triton/Mercury boat rig worth $50,000.
Richardson's two previous wins were last season. But since her most recent win — Bull Shoals Lake in August 2006 — her fishing game's been suffering: eighth in a field of 12 at the WBT 2006 Championship in February; 17th at this season's WBT stop No. 1, Lake Amistad in Texas; and 20th at stop No. 2, Lake Dardanelle in her home state of Arkansas.
"Sometimes when you do badly, it lights the fire in you to hustle," said the 35-year-old winner. "I didn't start out this year as I wanted to, so I needed this."
Richardson started strong at Guntersville. She ended the first day, Thursday, in third place with 16-0. Friday she inched up into second place, again with a catch of 16-0. Her final-day bag — five fish that weighed 18-0 — clinched the win.
Richardson said she keyed in on Lake Guntersville's humps with a Carolina rig that included a 10-inch green-pumpkin Zoom worm and 3/4-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight.
The win boosted her standing in the Toyota WBT Angler of the Year race from 12th to fourth place, behind Sheri Glasgow of Muskogee, Okla., who stayed at the top; Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., who retained the second-place spot; and Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, who moved to up one notch into third.
"Sheri's leading, and she's so consistent, so getting ahead in points is tough," said Richardson, who lost the 2006 Angler of the Year title by 3 ounces to Dianna Clark of Bumpus Mills, Tenn.
Second-place holder Wong, who moved up to tie for sixth in the points standings with Clark, scored her best WBT finish to date.
"I think I'm more focused now, more willing to make changes and trust my intuition," said Wong, a 55-year-old who guides on Toledo Bend when she's not competing.
She said that on Lake Guntersville, her go-to lure was a cinnamon, purple-flake Yamamoto lizard on a Carolina rig she worked in shallow grass next to spawning beds. She also used a Senko plastic.
In the co-angler division, the winner was Karol Whitehurst of Winnsboro, Texas, with 37 pounds, 9 ounces. Whitehurst, a 50-year-old X-ray technician, took home a $1,000 check and a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $25,000. The Saturday win was her best showing to date in a BASS event.
Whitehurst said she was drop-shotting the same bait all three days: a Zoom finesse worm in a watermelon, purple-flake finish.
"I tried throwing other baits a few times, but I just didn't have confidence in them, so went back to the drop-shot rig and the finesse worm," said Whitehurst, who moved up into the winner's spot after holding fifth place for two days.
The co-angler who took second was Virginia Buckner of Scottsboro, Ala., whose total weight was 30-4. Behind her was Laura Elkins of Amarillo, Texas, with 29-13; Sharon Withers of Sam Rayburn, Texas, with 27-6; and Elizabeth Sanders of Brandon, Miss., with 25-12.
The next stop for the Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats is Kentucky Lake in Gilbertsville, Ky., June 14-16.
Mercury Marine Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats
Stop No. 3 of 2007 season
Day 3 Big Bass
Pro: Judy Wong, Many, La., 5-14
Co-angler: Karol Whitehurst, Winnsboro, Texas, 6-6
Local sponsors include the Guntersville Chamber of Commerce, Lake Guntersville State Park, Holiday Inn of Guntersville, Covenant Cove Lodge of Guntersville, Jameson Inn Albertville and Microtel Inn of Albertville.
Women's Bassmaster Tour sponsors
Mercury Marine, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Plano