About eight years ago, Alexander met a man named James Redd who fishes bass tournaments. They fished together a few times and became friends. That encouraged Alexander to start bass fishing tournaments herself.
“When I was growing up, you couldn’t pry me away from the lake,” Paula recalled. “I’ve always liked fishing, but never got into bass fishing until I met James. My uncle took me out when I was 12 years old and we went trolling. We used to go down to Santee-Cooper with my grandparents and catch bream, catfish and crappie. James got me into bass fishing and I loved it. I knew it was what I wanted to do. I owe a lot to him. He’s a very patient man.”
Alexander, who owns Alexander’s Pool Service for cleaning and maintaining swimming pools, entered some women’s tournaments and other local events to gain confidence and experience. She fished a few BFL events and participated in some Women's Bassmaster Tour events. Then, the WBT folded in 2010 after five years of competition.
“When they cancelled the Women's Bassmaster Tour, fishing lost its appeal to a lot of women including me,” she lamented. “I went into a depression about fishing. It really busted our bubble. In the middle of that, my mother died. I didn’t even want to fish for a couple years. I lost my drive for fishing tournaments.”
Then one day at a boat ramp, Alexander spotted some middle school and high school students participating in a youth event. In most youth events, an adult captain drives the boat and tow vehicle, but does not fish. Only the youth angler fishes. A young girl approached Alexander about being her boat captain because she felt uncomfortable spending all day in the boat with a man. That renewed the competitive spark in the heart of the pro angler.
“The one girl on the team came up to me and said she hates going out with the guys because she’s uncomfortable if she has to go to the bathroom on the boat,” Paula explained. “She asked me if I would captain a boat for her. I said I would. They asked me to join the team as an assistant coach. That really put the fire back under me to go fishing. I sure would like to see one of those kids walking across the stage and picking up a trophy for winning a major event one day.”
When on the water, Alexander mostly throws topwater baits, Carolina rigs and crankbaits. She also throws spinnerbaits on occasion. Her favorite topwater baits include a Zara Spook and a Cotton Cordell Crazy Shad.
“I’m a power fisherman,” she revealed. “I’m always crashing the banks, not drop shotting out in deep water. My favorite way to fish is topwater, but that doesn’t always work. Sometimes, I have to pull out a crankbait, spinnerbait or a Carolina rig. I caught most of my fish this year on either a Carolina rig or a topwater bait. On Clarks Hill, the grass is starting to take over. That will bring into play some other types of baits anglers need to fish in the national championship.”
The national championship weigh-ins will take place at Wildwood State Park in Appling, Ga. The public weigh-ins will begin at 3 p.m. on Oct. 23-24 and 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 25. The winner will take home a fully rigged Triton 21XS bass boat powered by a Mercury 200-horsepower Pro XS outboard motor and a MotorGuide trolling motor. The package also includes a set of Carlisle trailer tires, Odyssey batteries and generous supplies of Royal Purple oil products. The entire package retails for about $60,000.
For more information on the national championship tournament, call ABA at 256-232-0406. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.