HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. Three weeks of intense scouting on Old Hickory Lake paid off Thursday for Janet Parker of Little Elm, Texas, when she took the lead with 10 pounds, 12 ounces, in the third event of the 2008 season on the Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors.
"I came straight from Gadsden, Ala., from the last (WBT) tournament and went to work. I was tired of not getting into the top-20 cut," she said when asked why she invested the time.
Parker turned a full-time pro three years ago. Her best WBT performances to date are two 23rd place finishes in 2006.
The determined Texan was 9 ounces in front of two-time WBT winner and the 2006 Toyota WBT Angler of the Year, Dianna Clark (10-3) of Bumpus Mills, Tenn. Both weighed in a five-fish limit all largemouth bass on a tough day when only 11 other pros managed to do the same.
Bunched up behind the leaders were two local anglers, Cindy Caperton of Madison, Tenn., with 9-15, and Lori Masters of Nashville, Tenn., with 9-10. Completing the top five was Bridget Allen of Philadelphia, Pa., on their heels with 9-9.
Parker said she believed what she's learned about Old Hickory's bass will continue to pay off.
"I don't want to sound overconfident, but I had fish on the north end that I needed a northwest wind and sun for which I had today and I still have fish on the main lake close to the dam, that require shade, rain and wind, which they're calling for tomorrow," she said. "I haven't even touched the fish I'm going to tomorrow."
If she succeeds in making Friday's top-20 cut, she'll be eligible to compete Saturday for the first prize in the pro division: $1,000 cash and a Triton/Mercury boat rig valued at $50,000.
WBT pros also are competing in a points race to become the first woman to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic, bass fishing's most prestigious competition. The one pro with the most points at the end of the season will be the 2008 Toyota WBT Angler of the Year, an accomplishment that comes with a berth in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 20-22 on the Red River out of Shreveport/Bossier City, La., as well as a 2009 Toyota Tundra.
With a strong finish in Tennessee, Parker could pull herself up in the points race she's currently 33rd but she'd have to make up a lot of ground to catch points leader Kim Bain of Alabaster, Ala. Bain managed just 4-13 Thursday for 32nd place.
Clark also has to make up for a slow 2008 season. The former AOY was 57th in the points standings going into the Old Hickory event.
"Things are back on track for me, hopefully, but this is a tough lake," said Clark. "But this isn't over yet. You can bring in 10 pounds one day, 15 the next, then zero the next. The full moon this week and no current all day long are definitely factors that play on the fish. This lake fishes a lot like Barkley [in Kentucky], and when they shut that current down, these fish get tough.
"There's nothing real solid for me here. I started this morning in an area I knew had good largemouth on it, but when the current wasn't running, and only little ones were biting, I made an adjustment. It's a run-and-gun deal. I was actually culling today, but not off one spot."
Fans can track how Parker and Clark fare Friday by checking in at www.Bassmaster.com. Live video and a real-time leaderboard will begin at 2:15 p.m. CT Friday and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Each day, Bassmaster.com also will post final results, stories and photo galleries.
In the co-angler division, in which the first-place prize is a Skeeter/Yamaha rig valued at $25,000, Linda Thomas of Pryor, Okla., led the field with 8 pounds, 10 ounces. A pound behind was Petra Ramsey of El Paso, Texas. Brenda Bates of La Porte, Texas, was third with 7-5.
The field will launch Friday and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. at Sanders Ferry Park, 100 Sanders Ferry Road in Hendersonville. The park also the site of the Friday weigh-in beginning at 2:15 p.m.
Saturday's finale weigh-in will be begin at 2:30 p.m. at Academy Sports & Outdoors, 2350 Gallatin Pike N. in Madison, Tenn.
All WBT events are free and open to the public.
Sponsors of the Women's Bassmaster Tour include Academy Sports & Outdoors, Toyota Tundra, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance, Mercury, Skeeter, Yamaha, OPTIMA Batteries, Triton Boats, Legend Boats, MoGills and Mustang.
Local hosts include the Sumner County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Holiday Inn Express of Hendersonville
Stop No. 3
2008 Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors
Old Hickory Lake
June 19-21, 2008
83 pros, 83 co-anglers/observers
Cut to the top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers after Day 2
5:30 a.m. CT
Sanders Ferry Park
100 Sanders Ferry Road
2:15 p.m. CT
Sanders Ferry Park
100 Sanders Ferry Road
2:30 p.m. CT
Academy Sports & Outdoors
2350 Gallatin Pike N.
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