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Glasgow A Big Fish In Small Pond On Fishing Tour

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Several months ago Sheri Glasgow and her mother were leaving a Muskogee restaurant when she heard a voice behind her whisper: ``That's the lady that fishes.''

A mother and daughter then followed Glasgow into the parking lot and asked her to autograph a cap. That's when Glasgow knew women's professional bass fishing had changed.

After fishing in near obscurity for a decade on women's bass tournament trails, Glasgow is getting recognized more and more. She is a star on the Women's Bassmaster Tour, in just its second season.

A 40-year-old representative for a Muskogee custom cabinetmaking company, Glasgow finished second in last year's inaugural Women's Bassmaster Tour Championship to Georgia's Pamela Martin-Wells, who has won more money bass fishing than any other female angler.

It was Glasgow's third runner-up finish in six WBT events in 2006. In 2007, she hasn't finished out of the top five in any tournament.

She opened the 2007 season with a third-place finish in February at Lake Amistad, Texas, then in March won her first WBT tournament on Lake Dardanelle, Ark., with a three-day sack exceeding 46 pounds.

She finished fifth at Guntersville, Ala., in May then led for two days in a WBT event in Kentucky, before being overtaken on the final day to place second.

Glasgow is the WBT season points leader for the coveted ``Angler of the Year'' title with only one tournament left in the regular season.

``Sheri is as competitive as they come,'' said Bruce Mathis, director of the WBT. ``She will give Pamela Martin-Wells a run for her money any day of the week.''

Growing up in Fort Gibson with three older brothers, Glasgow was destined to become a tomboy. She fished with her father and brothers, and was persuaded by her ex-husband to try tournament fishing.

She learned to bass fish in 1989 on the Arkansas River and entered her first tournament in 1991, finishing fourth in a Bass-N-Gal event. She fished competitively on that trail and another _ the Women's Bass Fishing Association _ before both of those organizations dissolved.

She was the Bass-N-Gal champion in 1997 and the organization's rookie of the year in 1992. She also has two WBFA victories on her resume.

But those tournament trails never shined a spotlight on her or any other female angler like the Women's Bassmaster Tour. For the first time, BASS _ the oldest tournament organization in the country _ has put its brand on a women's tour. Fans and sponsors are starting to notice that women can catch fish, too.

``We've weighed in some really big sacks like the guys have,'' Glasgow said. ``The fish don't know.''

Still, Glasgow is a big fish in a small pond. The prize money offered on the WBT is a fraction compared to the men's BASS tours.

For winning the WBT event on Lake Dardanelle, Glasgow received a Triton-Mercury boat and trailer package with a retail value of $50,000, although such prices are inflated.

On the men's side, the angler who captures the Sooner Run on Grand Lake will win $100,000 in cash. The Bassmaster Majors will pay $250,000 to winners and the 2007 Bassmaster Classic champ will get $500,000.

And that doesn't include all the benefits that go with winning on the men's tour, such as sponsorships and endorsements.

``We need more of the same opportunities,'' Glasgow said.

Mathis admits anglers on the WBT are eager for it to grow more rapidly, but thinks the tour must crawl before it can walk. Sponsors must be convinced that the women will continue to catch fish and are capable of sustaining a tour on their own.

When that happens, more sponsors will come on board and more prize money will be added. Increased purses will bring television exposure and even more sponsors and more money, Mathis said. The WBT is building an identity, he said

``We don't want to rush it along,'' Mathis said. ``We have to take baby steps. Little things add up to big things over time.''

BASS has been surprised at the success of the fledgling tour, Mathis said. Each WBT event has been able to fill a full field of 100 anglers and 100 co-anglers. The tournaments are attracting fans and media interest, he said.

Last year, each WBT tournament was held near a men's Elite Series event with weigh-ins on the same stage to ensure fans would show up at the women's weigh-ins. This year, the women are getting ``decent crowds'' on their own, Mathis said.

``It's been an eye-opener,'' said Mathis, who admits the WBT has exceeded his expectations thus far.

Glasgow said the WBT has no proverbial glass ceiling. She envisions a day where she can fish full-time for a living just like the men on the pro side.

``Heads are beginning to turn,'' she said. ``We still got a lot of growing to do, but we've had an awesome start. It's been phenomenal, actually.''
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