2009-11-19 / Front Page

Alexander places 10th in Women's Bassmaster Tour

PAULA ALEXANDER PAULA ALEXANDER Paula "Rock-It" Alexander is living her dream.

The Lincoln County angler placed 10th in the Academy of Sports and Outdoors Women's Bassmaster Tour (WBT) Championship held recently at Black Bayou Lake in Benton, Louisiana.

She also caught the big bass for the tournament.

On the second day of the threeday event, while Alexander made the 30-minute trip to the weigh-in post, a radio station announced that one of the anglers had caught a fish weighing in the 6 to 8-pound range.

By the time Alexander arrived, the crowd had grown to about 1,000 people. When she pulled out the six pound, three-ounce bass, she was rewarded with a standing ovation.

The fish was caught with a "beefed-up hook" developed by Roy Altman and Jeremy Altman of Buckeye Lures.

"To place in the top 10 and catch the big bass for the tournament was an awesome experience," exclaimed Alexander. "I definitely exceeded my expectations. I didn't think I would rank in the top 10.

"The tournament was the highlight of my career," she continued. "I got way more than I had hoped for. I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Except maybe a little less drama in the days preceding the tournament. While the participants were "pre-fishing" for the championship, a record rainfall in Shreveport caused officials to move the tournament four times in one day.

When the decision was made to hold the tournament on Black Bayou Lake, a 700-acre residential lake located near Shreveport, rumors began to fly.

"We heard that this lake had no water in it two weeks ago and would not hold up to three days of heavy fishing," said Alexander. "The estimated weight was 20 pounds for a three-day total.

"I must say we were worried and so were the residents of Benton - they already had six inches of rain in their boat houses, and it kept coming down throughout the day during practice on Thursday."

In spite of the adverse conditions and with just one eight-hour look at the lake prior to the tournament, the 40 anglers, as a group, pulled out 404 pounds of bass in three days.

"The truly amazing part of it all is that Black Bayou Lake has a slot limit, which is strictly enforced - all fish measuring between 14 and 17-inches long have to be returned to the lake immediately," noted Alexander. "We were releasing three-pound fish in the slot. Normally, we would have kept them.

"I would never have dreamed the lake was loaded with such a high caliber of fish."

The WBT Championship, which is the culmination of the 2009 season, featured the 40 top pro and co-anglers as determined by the standings the regular-season race for the Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year.

The winner of the tournament was Judy Wong of Many, Louisiana. Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Georgia, one of Alexander's mentors, was named the WBT Angler of the Year.

As the Angler of the Year, Martin- Wells will have a berth at the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, which is scheduled to take place February 19-21 on Lay Lake near Birmingham, Alabama. She is only the second woman to qualify for a Classic.

According to Alexander, "I'm currently trying to raise the funds to go to Alabama for the Classic in hopes of finding a sponsor for next year. I've also been approached about captaining a photo boat for Pam. A week of getting to watch Pam instead of competing - what an honor!"

In addition, Alexander has been asked to sign autographs at the Academy of Sports booth at the Classic. "All of this is very exciting for a small time, small town 'just want to fish chick' from Lincolnton."

As for future plans, she said her goal is to place in the top three at next year's WBT Championship. Last year, she finished in 24th place.

This past summer, the Lincolnton angler solidified her first Bassmaster career win at the Academy of Sports and Outdoors WBT event held on Lake Maumelle in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Born in Augusta and reared in McDuffie County, Alexander spent a lot of time recreational fishing on Clark's Hill Lake.

"Even so, I never had much interest in bass fishing until recently. A friend and neighbor of my mom's, Jimmy Redd, fished tournaments with the Walmart Bass Fishing League. She introduced us and fishing we went.

"After a few months of backlashes and line checking, he took me to my first tournament. It only took one, and I was hooked. I gave up my parapro/ art job at Dearing Elementary School and started working at my pool service business full time so I could get on the lake more."

When the WBT began in 2006, Alexander planned to participate as a co-angler, having very little experience bass fishing and even less in operating a bass boat.

However, Redd insisted that she use his boat and go pro, so pro she went.

"I learned to operate a bass boat and trolling motor just weeks prior to the second stop of the WBT's inaugural tour at Lake Norman in North Carolina. After placing 18th the first time out, I took that check and went to Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas where I came in third. At that point, I knew I was born to fish."

2009 marks the first year that Alexander has been able to afford to fish the full season. "I'm very pleased with how things have turned out — it's really been a break-out year for me. Hopefully, this will open doors for some sponsorship opportunities."

Alexander, 45, is the mother of two and grandmother of four.

Return to top