first foray into the competitive bass fishing ranks wasn't a resounding success, at least not by typical fishing standards.James, 44, an associate professor of marketing at LSU-Shreveport, entered the recent Women's Bassmaster Tour preview event on Lewisville Lake near Dallas as a nonboater.
"I was apprehensive, but there was so much enthusiasm among the women competing that it eased my fears," said James
, the only competitor from northwest Louisiana."I'm more comfortable fishing with other women.I didn't want to fish on a tour that was male dominated."
On the first day, James
was paired with boater Kitsy Cunningham of Eufaula, Okla., and reeled in just one bass that was one inch shy of the 14-inch minimum.
The second day she
rode with Rhonda Usery of Cabot, Ark., and caught several white bass, which are illegal to weigh in.But her
two-day total of 0.00 left her
"As it happens, the two pros I was with weren't on fish of any size and the lake was very different from what I'm used to fishing," James
said."It was all rock with no grass, but that's one of the reasons I joined the tour ... to get to fish different places and to meet other women who fish."
And that's what made the event a success for James
, despite the lack of weigh fish.
"Frankly, the camaraderie was very attractive.It was really, really a nice event," James
said."The women were generally very friendly, very open, wishing each other well."
The Bossier City resident also hopes to take something from the experience into her
"From the perspective of a marketing professor, I thought it would be interesting to be involved with this from the beginning ... to watch the sport as it grows and as the tour is born," James
said."I do like to bring real world examples into the classroom and this is one that some of my students might be interested in."James
began serious bass fishing while attending Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill.She
husband, Marc, spent their wedding present money on a down payment for a Tracker Bass Boat, which lasted for 15 years.They currently drive a Triton 186, but are planning to move up in size, because they love fishing on Toledo Bend and need a bigger boat to navigate the winds.James
didn't just decide on a whim to join the WBT trail.
"Several people, besides my husband (Marc), either encouraged me to participate in the tournament or helped me learn more about tournament fishing and what to expect," James
said."Charles (Hogg) at Bass Pro Shops was especially helpful, as were David at Travis Boating and fishing guides Mike and Cathy Wheatley.People who fish are some of the nicest individuals you will ever meet."James
has no desire to join the pro side of the women's tour nor in seeking the mega-marketing dollars that the men's tour veterans have acquired.
"I'm not in this to make money.I really feel that there are enough women who are trying to make a living at this that I don't need to step on their toes and potentially take sponsorship dollars away from them," James
said."What I might do is contact some of the bait manufacturers and see if they would be interested in using me as a field tester.But that's probably as far as I'll go."
James plans to compete in the inaugural WBT regular-season event in March on Toledo Bend and has a simple goal for that venue, which she
"I just want to walk the stage and weigh-in a fish," James