What do 24.95 pounds of bass and cyclospora have in common? Most likely, Pam Martin-Wells – who figures she survived an attack of this very popular gastrointestinal illness recently while competing in the Lady Bass Anglers Association’s (LBAA’s) tournament on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tenn.
“I ate a couple of salads, and then, I really should have known better, but I ate an unwashed peach before the tournament started,” said Pam, in a phone interview last week.
When I talked to her, she was still feeling the after-effects of the 2-day knockdown, drag-out bout of what she believes to be cyclospora – the gastrointestinal illness caused by parasites that is sweeping the nation this summer.
What could be worse than having the stomach flu on a bass boat?
Pam could probably think of a couple of things – like getting her casting elbow run over by a truck or tearing up her first car’s engine because she forgot to check the oil. Oh, wait. Those things have already happened to her. She said she loves to do just about anything outdoors and loved competing in motocross races until someone ran over her arm. Then, after the accident, her doctor told her she needed to stop, or she’d need surgery. Figuring that she would rather cast and drive a fast bass boat than race a dirt bike, she opted to keep on fishing instead.
As for the oil check light thing, she said in retrospect, she thinks her dad did her a service by insisting that she learn how to repair the damage caused by not paying attention to her motor. In fact, she spent a lot of time – along with her sister – learning skills from her father, and these skills that she started learning as a teenager come in mighty handy these days while traveling the country and pulling a bass boat. “I have changed out brake calipers while on the side of a road,” stated Pam.
The business of bass
“I just tell people to believe in yourself and believe in what you’re doing,” said Pam. “In fact, I write ‘Live your dreams’ when I sign autographs.” And, “Be determined.”
Pam’s sponsors surely appreciate her integrity and comfortableness in her own skin. “I don’t represent products I don’t believe in,” she stated. During a tournament at Lake Mitchell a few years ago, she fished with different soft plastic bait than her sponsor’s bait. Before she accepted the trophy, she telephoned her sponsor and said, “I didn’t catch fish on your product and I’m not going to say that I did.” She said later she caught plenty of fish on that sponsor’s product, and when she told people about it, they believed her.
She encourages women who want to be like her to start in local tournaments, become co-anglers, and learn the sport first from the back of the boat. She likes what she’s seeing at the high school and collegiate levels, with states making bass fishing an official sport. Above all, she said, “Just be determined.”
Her next major tournament in the LBAA will be at the Red River in Louisiana, from Sept. 13 to 14. She’s fished that area a lot, and said she probably won’t show up to pre-fish it too far in advance.
As a guide with her husband on Lake Seminole in Georgia, near where she grew up, she spends many days on the water – either guiding other anglers, or working on her own skills.
When she’s not bass fishing
Pam loves to fish for anything. She’s even been known to fly fish, if the occasion merits it – with a trip into the nearby mountains. Her husband, Steven, is her companion outdoors as well as business partner. Together, they prepare food plots for bowhunting during deer season, and hunt deer and turkeys together.
Pam added a new workout regimen to her life. She’s been attending the local boot camp fitness course, offered at Bainbridge Leisure Services. She credits her improved stamina – from running, lifting tires, push ups, and other forms of exercise – for her ability to stay in the recent tournament while deathly ill. “I was running up the hill the other day to grab my set of tires, and I realized how supportive this group of people is … I heard my instructor, Joanie Williams, yell, ‘You can DO this!’ and I felt like I could. I took that attitude to the boat during the tournament,” explained Pam.
“I’ll be going back and signing up for another 8-week session of boot camp till I can’t do it any longer,” she said, because that’s how much she believes in the training.
After all, bass fishing is a physical and therefore, a mental sport.
Tight lines and triva
Pam says she could write a book about her 25 years of experience, and not only things that happened on the water. She might and she says if there’s a publisher out there, she’ll talk to him or her about it.
She doesn’t eat bass, but loves saltwater fish and pan fish.
She always wears sunscreen and prefers Neutrogena with an SPF or 70 to 85. “I promote wearing sunscreen, because coming from the era when you didn’t wear it, I now find myself visiting the dermatologist regularly to have pieces frozen off.”
“Frozen is not cold, by the way,” she added, when referring to dermatology.
Pam appears very proud of the evolution of women in the sport of bass fishing, and likes the direction of the LBAA and where that’s headed. And rightly so, because she’s been a large part of this growth in the industry, and adds class and grace to the sport of bass fishing.
Visit Pam Martin-Wells online.