February 20, 2007
LINCOLNTON, Ga.---When you hear the word fisherman, you might immediately think of men.
A local woman is bucking the trend and trying to reel in others in the process.
Paula Alexander used to be an art teacher. Now she's a pro fisherman.
"Catching one of those big old fish...when you see her on the end of that line and you're having a nice fight with her, there's nothing like it," she told News 12 Sports. "It just gets your blood pumping."
For the last year and a half, her classroom has become just about any body of water around the country, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
"We've always preached to the kids the power of a dream. We said that was our motto, the power of a dream," Alexander said. "I never thought I might be the one actually having the chance to live this dream."
When it comes to fishing, most think of guys. In the last few years, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to the likes of ESPN, who've shelled out millions in sponsoring events like the Pride of Augusta at Clarks Hill. Now they're doing the same, on a smaller scale, with the Women's Bassmasters Tour.
"Last year was so important on the WBT," Alexander said. "If you fished it, you made history. You put your name down in the history books that said you're one of the first people, and you think back like the movie A League of Their Own."
This is year two of the WBT, with five events scheduled throughout the year. The inaugural season was a good one for Alexander, who had a 3rd and 18th. She sees the sport growing.
"Got about the same amount of people fishing this year that we had last year, but there's a lot of new faces. There's an awful lot of new faces".
In 2006, Georgia issued over 600,000 fishing licenses in some form. Just 20 percent were for women, which has stayed pretty constant the last few years. Alexander's hoping the number will grow, and she'll do her part, one angler at a time.
"I promised as soon as the weather gets right, I'll take some of these ladies fishing, and that's what it's going to take," she said. "If it takes us getting out there and talking about the women's tour, we carry the emblem on the boat and on each vehicle, and women say, 'We didn't know there was a tour.' That's right, come on out and fish with us."
In the meantime, Alexander has turned in her chalk and erasers for a rod and reel living out a dream.
For beginners, fishing can be pretty cheap. For pros like Alexander, it's just the opposite.
Much like NASCAR drivers, she is looking for sponsors to help offset the cost of fishing the tour.