Bain becomes first woman to qualify for Bassmaster Classic

Kim Bain has been to the Bassmaster Classic as a spectator and an ESPN2 analyst and now in four months, the Alabaster pro will attend the Classic as the first woman competitor in its 39-year history as she secured the ultimate prize Saturday, earning the Toyota Tundra Women’s Bassmaster Tour Angler of the Year and the subsequent Bassmaster Classic berth with a dominating season-long performance.

In her first year competing on the Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors, Bain has been cool and collected throughout, fighting the significant nerves in trying to accomplish the historic feat. The 28-year-old broke down Saturday after finishing first at the Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton, her second victory of the five-event season.

“I was so excited I had a rough start today,” said Bain, 28. “I lost two fish in the first hour of competition and I got very frustrated. But I was able to settle down and stick with what I knew would work.”

Bain, who caught her limit by noon, worked pockets of grass, targeting water that was 3 to 4 feet deep. She primarily worked a Reactions Innovations Trixie Shark in two productive spots she located during practice. While the Trixie Shark was her main lure, she mixed in a finesse worm and a crankbait throughout the competition.

After scoring bookend victories in her banner season, sandwiched around two second-place finishes and a sixth, Bain will now focus on the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 20-22 out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and the Red River.

“I’m going to use the time and relax,” said Bain. “This is such an accomplishment that I really need some time to reflect.”

Bain left her birthplace of Brisbane, Australia, when she was 19 to pursue a career in professional bass fishing, which was a tough decision at the time. The AOY, Classic berth and Championship win have cemented her reputation as one of the top women anglers in the world and validated her decision.

“I truly have come full circle. I grew up watching the Bassmaster Classic and reading about it and have experienced it on many levels” said Bain, who was presented the Classic invitation by Bobby Murray, the 1971 and first Bassmaster Classic champion. “Qualifying is a dream come true. Hopefully, I can make female anglers everywhere proud.”

Despite Bain’s dominating regular-season performance, she entered the tournament within striking distance for the AOY. Cindy Hill of Smyrna, Tenn., and Juanita Robinson of Highlands, Texas, failed to leapfrog Bain at the Championship and Bain seized the momentum on the second day of competition, taking home a $55,000 boat package and $5,000 with the victory.

“I had a big dream as a kid to fish in the Bassmaster Classic,” said Bain. “Anytime you accomplish something that you have put a lot of work and time into, it is pretty special.”