- Ken Duke
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Just when you think it doesn't get any bigger or better in the world of women's professional bass fishing than winning the Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship, Judy Wong gets invited to join Bassmaster Classic champion, Alton Jones, for some face time with the leader of the free world.
On Tuesday, Judy, her husband Glenn, son Scott and daughter-in-law Mary toured the White House with Jones' family and BASS General Manager Tom Ricks before spending an hour with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office.
"It was very exciting and a huge honor," Judy said. "When we learned that the President had cleared his schedule to spend extra time with us, we were elated. It's a memory I'll never forget."
And as a house guest in America's most famous home, Judy didn't come empty-handed. She had gifts for the President and First Lady, including a couple of her signature series rods from American Rodsmiths, a pair of Quantum reels, a tacklebag full of lures from Academy Sports and some of her original artwork supporting a Toledo Bend Reservoir fishing fundraiser.
"I was very impressed that the President was so knowledgeable about bass fishing," Judy said. "He recognized the Yamamoto Senko in my artwork and called it by name. We talked about rigging techniques, and he told me that his biggest bass weighed nine pounds and came from one of the lakes on his ranch in Crawford, Texas."
The President also shared his insights into his role as the nation's leader and gave his guests a tour of the Oval Office and the personal touches he had given it.
"He has a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in his office rather than one of his father (George H.W. Bush)," Judy related. "He said his father is always in his heart and he wanted the picture of Lincoln as a reminder that doing what is right is more important than doing what is popular."
Though the tour and visit were a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Judy and her family, she hopes it does even more for women and fishing.
"It's wonderful to see that we're getting this kind of recognition," she said. "I hope this spotlight will show everyone how far we've come in the sport and how important it is to support and conserve our resources."
2hMichael C. Wright