Bain-Moore 17th at Neeley Henry

Defending Women’s Bassmaster Tour champion Kim Bain-Moore’s quest to compete in a Bassmaster Classic in her home state began this week, as she qualifies for the final cut of the opening stop on the 2009 WBT schedule on Neely Henry Lake.

Bain-Moore, an Alabaster resident who is fishing her first BASS event since she made history last month as the first woman to compete in a Bassmaster Classic, sits in 17th place after the first two days of fishing with a 10-bass total of 17 pounds, 1 ounce. She fell three spots after sitting in 14th with 9 pounds, 11 ounces Thursday.

“I was really looking forward to Neely Henry,” she said. “The Classic was a tremendous experience, but I’m certainly glad to be back with all my buddies on the WBT.”

Georgia angler Pam Martin-Wells leads the tournament with a two-day weight of 25 pounds, 9 ounces.

The top 20 pros will compete Saturday for a top prize of $1,000 cash and a Skeeter/Yamaha boat rig valued at $55,000.

Saturday’s launch will be at 6:30 a.m. at Coosa Landing, 200 Lake St. in Gadsden. The weigh-in will begin at 2:45 p.m. at Academy Sports and Outdoors, 200 Albert Rains Blvd., Gadsden. WBT events are free and open to the public.

After the Neely Henry event, WBT anglers have three more regular-season tournaments. At that point, the top 20 pros and top 20 co-anglers in the standings will advance to the Oct. 16-18 Academy Sports and Outdoors WBT Championship on the Red River out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La. — the same venue as the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.

One pro will emerge from the championship as the 2009 Toyota Tundra WBT Angler of the Year and become the second woman to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic. She’ll earn a berth in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake outside of Columbiana.