Montevallo grad has sights set on Classic

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A young woman with Montevallo roots hopes to make her mark on the Professional Women&8217;s Bassmaster Tour.

Heather Sullivan, 32, who grew up in Montevallo and

graduated from Montevallo High School in 1992, hopes to earn a spot in the Bassmaster Classic for women set for Lake Mitchell in February 2007.

The daughter of Bob and Debbie Sullivan of Montevallo, she currently competes as a co-angler on the Professional Women&8217;s Bassmaster tour. To make it to the Classic, she said, she will have to finish among the top six co-anglers.

Sullivan is off to a good start. She placed second in her first event held at Neely Henry Lake in Gadsden this past April.

Sullivan said she grew up fishing with her dad, who was a manufacturers&8217; reprentative for hunting and fishing companies.

After graduating from the University of Alabama School of Nursing and becoming a travel nurse, she said she tried her hand at fly fishing in Colorado and flats fishing in Central America, as well as freshwater/saltwater fishing in Alaska.

Sullivan said it was while helping to run a fishing lodge in Alaska that she read about the women&8217;s tournament in a Bassmaster magazine.

&8220;Because it was in Alabama and because my parents lived here, I thought &8216;well that&8217;s a good opportunity,&8217; you know, a good reason, an excuse for me to come home and fish in that tournament and just see how it went,&8221; she said.

Currently, she said a first place winner on the women&8217;s tour gets a bass boat worth between $35,000 and $50,000. A second place finish wins a trolling motor and $2,500 cash.

Sullivan said she will next compete in North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri.

Sullivan explains that an angler is one who owns the boat they fish from, and a co-angler is one who fishes off the back of a boat. Both compete individually in their separate categories, she said.

Sullivan said there is a different pairing each day and the contestants are not allowed to discuss the previous days&8217; activities.

Sullivan lists Matzuo lures and G Loomis Rods as sponsors. And she said she recently worked out a deal with Smith Action Optics Sunglasses.

Every little bit helps, she said, because the entry fee for anglers is $650, and the entry fee for co-anglers is $350.

Sullivan said the women&8217;s tour is sponsored by ESPN and is on Bass Saturday paired with the Elite Series. She said on average there are 200 women competing per tournament.

Sullivan claims Lay Lake and Lake Mitchell as her home lakes.

How does she prepare for a tournament? &8220;You fish a lot, and basically you&8217;re fishing to prepare yourself for the endurance of the day,&8221; she said.

She added, &8220;You just talk to people and find out (what&8217;s going on), and you just fish and believe in what you&8217;re fishing with and making every cast count.&8221;

Sullivan said she uses Senko, a Gary Yamamato worm, and Matzuo spinners and hooks.

She said she works in Montgomery and resides in Clanton, but still fishes with her dad