MADISON, Tenn. — Saturday on Tennessee's Old Hickory Lake, Judy Wong of Many, La., accomplished something that had eluded her for almost four competition seasons: a win in a regular-season event of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Women's Tour.
"I did win the 2007 WBT championship event, but I came here to win this tournament," she said. "I haven't had a win on this tour other than the championship. To have a regular-season win under my belt was my goal."
Wong took her win with a three-day total of 28 pounds, 5 ounces. She earned $1,000 and a boat package valued at nearly $55,000. She put her mark on the tournament the second day by bringing in a limit with two kickers, more than enough to give her the lead going into the final round. She had just three fish Saturday, but that didn't matter in the end: She won by a 6-pound, 12-ounce margin.
Wong's nearest challenger was another champion, Kim Bain-Moore, who scored second place with 21-9. The Alabaster, Ala., pro is also the reigning Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year and first woman to compete in a Bassmaster Classic. The Old Hickory event was her best showing so far in the 2009 season.
Lisa Sternard of Clarksville, Tenn., also ended with 21-9, but lost out on a tie-breaker rule that rewards highest number of fish caught over three days: Bain-Moore had 15 fish to Sternard's nine.
Wong said she worked three areas for most of her fish. One, a ledge, she hit all three days. She worked it with an Academy H2O crankbait in a shad finish, then with Carolina-rigged Gary Yamamoto lizards. One was watermelon red, but she switched to black with blue flake when the sky was overcast.
"The big ones yesterday all came on the Carolina rig," Wong said. "Today I went back to the ledge, but I went early because it was overcast this morning and I thought it would produce."
"The bite was so slow," Wong added, "and I keyed on fish following the shad all week, but there are only a limited number of keepers in any one area."
Bain-Moore said she took nine of her keepers from under one large boat tied up at a dock.
"I didn't have huge fish, but I was consistent," she said. "Fishing was definitely slower today, and I stayed in three areas where I had caught keepers Thursday and Friday. I just ground it out in those three areas."
Besides the boat, Bain-Moore got her fish out of grass and from under docks, and sometimes by working areas that were a combination of the two factors.
The winner in the co-angler division was Monica Altman of Angier, N.C., with a three-day weight of 17-3. Her prize was $500 and a Triton/Mercury boat rig valued at $25,000.
Altman, who won a WBT co-angler competition in 2006 on Lake Norman, led on Day One, zeroed on Day Two, then came back on Day 3 with a 10-pound, 11-ounce limit. She said she was "a little surprised" she won.
Altman's third-day charge was enough to jump over local angler Regina Pierpaoli of Gallatin, Tenn., who led on Day Two. Pierpaoli ended in second place with 14-13.
Third was Colleen McKay of Worchester, Mass., who had 13-4. Filling out the top five were Virginia's Barbara Gaskins with 12-12 and Indiana's Jill Matheis, who had 12-6.
The Old Hickory event ended the regular WBT season and set the stage for the 2009 Academy Sports + Outdoors WBT Championship, Oct. 16-18 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
That's where the season-long points race will cross the finish line and one pro will claim the season's biggest prize package: the Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year crown, a Toyota Tundra, and an invitation to the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.
Championship qualifiers are the top 20 in the Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year points competition in both the pro and co-angler divisions.