A new generation of professional anglers

Spectators of all ages attend WBT weigh-ins

Paula Alexander

SHERWOORD, Ark. — As the bass fishing community searches for more ways to attract a new generation of anglers, weigh-ins of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Women's Bassmaster Tour provide a link between the professionals of today and tomorrow.

The Day Two weigh-in featured a large crowd. Family, friends, and complete strangers anxiously awaited news of a final cut to 20 anglers and 20 co-anglers. Angler Kim Bain-Moore missed the final cut but knows what it's like to have support waiting in her corner from the very beginning of her life in fishing.

"My mom and dad both fished," Bain-Moore said. "We would fish tournaments together when I was younger."

In a recent Iowa angler survey conducted by Responsive Management, a survey research firm out of Virginia, "to be with the family" was listed as the second highest motivation for fishing.

Lucy Mize started fishing when she began dating Elite Series Angler Jimmy Mize. Now she's got a family with fishing embedded in its foundation.

"This day and age a lot of families don't have anything to talk about at the dinner table," Mize said. "We do."

Mize talked about how great it was for her children to not only accept their parent's lives in fishing but embrace it as well. Her daughter, Melinda Mize, now fishes on the WBT, and son, Matt Mize fishes tournaments regularly as well.

"Our kids were raised on a boat," Mize said.

Families, however, weren't the only ones supporting the WBT. Professional angler Jan Heavener of Sherwood, Ark., held on tightly to a bouquet of flowers given to her by one of her biggest fans as she waited for the weigh-in to end.

"My little buddy who lives across the street named Ethan gave them to me," Heavener said.

Ethan Abernathy, 4 years old, then demonstrated how his neighbor "Mrs. Jan" taught him to use a fishing pole in the Heavener's front yard.

Heavener has had many kids over to learn how to cast and then reel in a catch.

"One kid comes out, and we give him a rod, and then more and more come out," Heavener said. "It's a mess of little kids on the cul-de-sac."

Heavener went on to talk about how important it was to teach future generations about fishing. Abernathy went on to talk about a frog he had recently caught that had unfortunately escaped. He has much grander plans for the future, however.

"I want to be a lawyer," Abernathy said but then quickly changed the subject. "I wish that I could be in a fishing tournament."

"A lawyer that fishes," Heavener said with a smile.