Three of the 20 pros who qualified for this month's historic Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors set for Oct. 23-25 on Arkansas' Lake Hamilton are from Arkansas.
Jan Heavener of Sherwood, Tammy Richardson of Glenwood and Lucy Mize of Ben Lomond are looking forward to representing their home state at the event on Hamilton, a 7,200-acre impoundment of the Ouachita River on the southern edge of Hot Springs.
"It's a beautiful lake with a big population of spotted bass," said Heavener, who is a first-time WBT Championship qualifier. "I fished it a few years ago, but I really don't know the lake. I was there in the hot summer just to learn my way around, and I've been back to practice the past few weekends."
Mize, a one-time WBT event winner who has qualified for all three of the circuit's championships, said she'll scout Hamilton for a few days before the cutoff, a practice approach with which she's most comfortable.
"I have fished Lake Hamilton, but not for several years," said Mize, who lives more than 100 miles from the championship fishery. "I have some areas in mind that I'll concentrate on. I think the lake plays to my strengths, but Hamilton is going to be a tough tournament."
Richardson, also a championship qualifier since the WBT's inception, spent about a week scouting the lake.
"I have so many other lakes closer to me Ouachita, De Gray and Lake Greeson that Hamilton isn't one I've fished a lot," Richardson said. "But I have competed on Hamilton in team tournaments. This time of year, the fish are in transition to fall patterns, and you can catch them deep and you can catch them shallow."
All three home-staters said a win in Arkansas would be the icing on the cake of the WBT Championship title, which includes a Triton/Mercury boat rig valued at $55,000, plus $5,000 cash.
The competition will be the biggest event of the WBT season on another count: It will result in the first woman to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic. The Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year, the pro who has amassed the most points through the season, will qualify for the Classic. She will be up against 50 other anglers in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 20-22 on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
The points leaders going into the Lake Hamilton event are Kim Bain of Alabaster, Ala., who has 890 points; Cindy Hill of Smyrna, Tenn., who has 876 points; and Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, with 855 points.
While one of the points leaders could score both the Classic berth and the championship title, it's possible that the championship winner will be among the other 17 qualifiers.
The three pros from Arkansas know they are perhaps too far behind to catch the points leaders, but they're more than happy to be able to focus on taking the WBT Championship trophy.
"All I can do is get out there and try to win it," Heavener said. "Winning would be the highlight of my career, of anyone's career. To have it happen in my home state would be even more special."
For more details on the event, click here.