CLAYTON, N.Y. (July 2002) – Bronx native Judy Israel fished her way into the record books on July 13 during the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Northern Division tournament on Thousand Islands.
Israel, who moved to Clewiston, Fla., four years ago to pursue a professional bass-fishing career with her husband, Abbie, netted a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces to claim first place and $2,173 at her home-state fishery as well as the distinction of being only the third woman in history to win an FLW Outdoors tournament.
In 1998, Cocoa, Fla., native Wanda Rucker claimed first prize in a BFL tournament on Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee, Fla. Three years later, Renee Flesh of Edwardsburg, Mich., became the first woman to win a national bass fishing championship when she won the Co-angler Division of the 2001 EverStart Series Championship on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala.
"I think that women can achieve in fishing," said Israel, who now ranks one of the most accomplished female anglers in history with $26,526 in winnings and seven top-10 finishes to her credit. "It's challenging to be on the road, and it's difficult to go fishing when it's 20-something degrees outside. But we can achieve.
"I was born and raised in New York, so I was glad to come in first here," Israel added. "It is extraordinary to win one finally."
In addition to her BFL win, Israel has earned four EverStart Series top-10 finishes and two top-10 finishes on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour.
Israel's husband competes as a co-angler on the EverStart Series and FLW Tour. He has earned three top-10 finishes, including two on the FLW Tour. He trails his wife in winnings, however, with $12,725. Eric Israel, Judy, and Abbie's son, also competes as a co-angler and has earned one top-10 FLW Tour finish.