Oklahoma grandma rocks boat as bass tournaments bow to female anglers


May 01, 1991|By PETER BAKER

When the Bassmaster Missouri Invitational convenes today on Truman Lake near Clinton, a former ballet teacher from Broken Bow, Okla., will become the first woman to fish in a Bassmaster Tournament Trail event.

Vojai Reed, however, is no stranger to professional bass fishing, having won the women's world championship in 1984 and been named Woman Angler of the Year in 1987 and 1989.

Reed's husband, Charlie, won the Bass Masters Classic in 1986.

The story line of this 55-year-old grandmother's journey into the male-only world of the Tournament Trail is not one of her own making. It is, however, something of a fractured fairy tale.

For a few years there has been a movement to allow women to enter men's Bass Anglers Sportsman Society events, and last spring BASS voluntarily changed a 23-year-old rule that excluded women.

But a petition signed by about 100 of the top circuit professionals and their wives convinced BASS to rethink the rules change.

L The primary concern of the pros and their wives was modesty.

Bass boats, you see, do not have toilets, and the fishing pros are paired in each boat and required to remain within sight of one another during about eight hours of fishing on a tournament day.

After thinking it over, BASS rescinded the rule change.

But on April 15, the Army Corps of Engineers entered the picture.

The corps sent a registered letter to BASS, saying that it would deny the permit it had issued the organization last September for a tournament next week at Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas unless women were allowed to compete.

The letter also threatened to revoke or deny permits for future BASS tournaments, and six of 13 events on next year's schedule are set for Corps of Engineers impoundments.

Given 10 days to comply, BASS did so.

The organization has decided to alter its rules further on tournament pairings, making it possible for individual pros to choose the sex of their partner.

So, Reed, who has traveled with Charlie on the circuit for a number of years and usually spent the tournament days shopping, will get the chance to compete against 243 men on

Truman Lake, including her husband.


The Striped Bass Advisory Board has forwarded its recommendations for the fall rockfish season to the Department of Natural Resources.

The board asks for a 17-day season opening Oct. 11, with a provision for a continuation of the season after a short period of closure if the allocation of fish has not been caught.

Fishermen -- whether fishing from shore, private boats or charter boats -- would be limited to two fish per day, regardless of the number of daily trips made. If the season were continued, the limit would be one fish per day.

The DNR, which will make the final decision on the fall season, will schedule a series of public hearings on the regulations this month.


Big bluefish are starting to arrive in decent numbers in the lower section of Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Over the weekend, a half dozen or so citations were issued for blues and very few of the fish taken were under 10 pounds. By this weekend, if we can string together a few days of warm, dry weather, fishing for blues down near Point Lookout could be very good.

There also are scattered reports of blues up to 16 pounds being taken as far north as the Radar Towers.

Charles "Les" Milburn of Hagerstown finished third in the recent BASS Federation National Championship held on Smith Mountain Lake near Roanoke, Va.

L Milburn caught 12 bass, weighing in at 25 pounds, one ounce.

Tournament winner Edward P. Cowan of Pearl River, N.Y., caught 14 bass weighing 31 pounds, 12 ounces.

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