CAMDEN, Tenn., July 28, 2000 -- Sherrie R. Brubaker of Warner, Okla., won the Women's Bass Fishing Association All-American Pro/Am Invitational on Kentucky Lake out of Camden, Tenn., today. While she was at it, she redefined the angst of angling.
After leading the event yesterday with five bass weighing 10.62, she was returning to her fishing spot down lake this morning when she ran into technical problems around 6:30. She and her days' partner, along with two other contestants, changed the prop on the engine - not an altogether easy thing to do in the water - but that turned out not to be the problem.
She phoned for assistance but had forgotten to bring a cord to recharge the cell phone, and the battery was running low. Help arrived in the form of a replacement boat about 10:00. It held only about 20 gallons of fuel, so she had to stop twice during the day to refuel. One of those stops would turn out to be a blessing.
"I had about three hours of fishing time," Brubaker said. Not a problem. Within five minutes of arriving at her fishing spot, she caught two of her biggest. "I caught several others, but they didn't make the Kentucky minimum," she said. Tennessee and Kentucky regulate Kentucky Lake. In the Kentucky section, only 15-inch or larger bass may be kept. In the Tennessee regulated section, 14 inches rule. "I couldn't bring back anything under 15 inches unless it were a spotted bass, which had to be at least 12 inches," she said.
Sounds easy. Unless you forgot to transfer your measuring stick when you swapped boats. "When we stopped for gas, I went into the marina, and a woman was working at a table with some papers and a ruler. So I borrowed her ruler and marked off 12 inches and 15 inches on a boat paddle in our boat. That's what we used to measure the fish with after that."
Everything went wrong that could have gone wrong, Brubaker said. But, instead of getting flustered. Brubaker took her lemons and swished up some lemonade.
She won the tournament with an 8.51-pound margin and had the largest fish of the day - a 3.8-pounder. In addition, she was the only angler to have two daily 5-bass limits.
"I stayed in 6 feet of water or less and fished whatever structure I could find - little stick-ups. Whatever. The water was clear to stained.
"Yesterday, I caught more on jigs and worms and spinnerbaits. Today most came on the spinnerbaits, but I used some of the other lures today, too."
Her baits included Terry Odum black and blue jigs; a chartreuse and white Strike King spinnerbait. The worms were Berkley PowerBaits - Junebug, red shad and watermelon colored. She rigged them all on 20-pound Berkley Big Game Flipping line.
"I had just a little wind to keep the shad balled up around any kind of structure," she said. She fished one area on the main lake, but most of the time, she spent in the back of a larger creek.
Going into this event, Brubaker was not in the ranking to attend the WBFA Classic. The top 20 go to the event. Brubaker qualified today by ranking 13 in Classic qualifying points.
Judy Milligan of Tallahassee, Fla., won the amateur division title with 12.02. She weighed three bass Thursday for 5.41 pounds and added three more weighing 6.61 today for a two-day total of 12.02. It gave her a 3.5-pound lead over her nearest competitor.
Milligan used a 6-inch Zoom Wacky Worm, Junebug in color; a 6-inch Zoom redbug, and a 6-inch Zoom watermelon-candy lizard. In addition, she used Texas and Carolina rigging with 20-pound test green Trilene. On the Carolina rigs, she used a 15-pound leader.
"The first day, we fished in the back of a big slough around crappie beds until about Noon," Milligan said. "Then we went up-lake and fished rock ledges - throwing from 2- to 3 feet then letting it drop off to about 15 feet where the bass would hit. I caught my first smallmouth there." She caught five bass. Three were keepers.
"Today, I caught three from 2- to 3-feet of water in lily pads in another backwater slough. Those were the biggest lily pads I've ever seen," she said. "They were about a foot to a foot-and-a-half across. I caught two there and lost one. We fished there until about 11:30 then went upriver and fished behind an island.
"All the fish today came from about 2- to 3 feet of water. Mayflies were falling all day, and the fish were going crazy. My husband and I saw one grass bed in practice and went over to it, and it turned out to be mayflies.
"About 12:30, I threw into an area where mayflies were falling out of a willow tree and caught my last bass. It weighed 2.73.
Milligan and her husband have three boys. "When we'd go fishing, they'd all bass fish," she said. "I'd bream fish." But about five years ago, her husband handed her a bass rod. "I caught a 3-pounder." She's been hooked ever since and is now a member of the Talquin Hookers bass club on Talquin Lake near Tallahassee.
This WBFA All-American brings the 2000 tour season to an end but also kicks off the 2001 tour season. The points-carrying categories were determined at this event for the 2000 season, but points were also earned for the 2001 categories. Those categories are Classic World Championship contenders, Angler of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Amateur of the Year. The top 20 point earners will attend the Classic, (place & date yet to be announced), along with Angler of the Year, Defending Champion, Rookie of the Year, Amateur of the Year, and two qualifiers from the Affiliated Club Championship.