BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Pam Martin-Wells is thrilled to be the second woman to fish in the Bassmaster Classic.
She didn't always feel that way. A year ago, said Martin-Wells, she was envious of Kim Bain-Moore, who was the first woman to compete in the Super Bowl of bass fishing. Then she saw the media circus that hounded Bain-Moore on and off the water.
"She was under a lot of pressure and understandably so," Martin-Wells said during Thursday's media day for the 40th annual Classic, which is Friday through Sunday on Lay Lake. "After watching what she went through, I was glad it was her and not me."
Martin-Wells has enjoyed her Classic experience. During practice last week, she joked about getting to fish in the snow for the first time.
"There's not an angler out here that doesn't dream of fishing this," she said. "It's kind of been an awesome deal."
Like Bain-Moore, Martin-Wells qualified for the Classic by winning the Angler of the Year title on the Bassmaster Women's Tour. Whether she will be the last woman to fish the Classic was the question on the minds of many media people.
BASS announced last month that it was discontinuing its women's tour for 2010 because of a lack of participation -- fewer than 50 anglers had signed up for each of the tournaments -- which means a woman will not automatically get a berth in next year's Classic in New Orleans.
Martin-Wells, of Bainbridge, Ga., hopes to qualify for the 2011 Classic through one of the Bassmaster Open tournament trails.
She is fishing the Southern and Central Opens this year. The top two anglers in the point standings for each division get to fish in the Classic.
Practically all the anglers who fish the Opens are male, but that doesn't bother Martin-Wells.
"I've been fishing men's events off and on for 15 years," said Martin-Wells, who fished the Southern Opens last year -- her best finish was a 17th at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg -- and has also competed in FLW Tour events, finishing as high as 10th. "The fish don't know if it's a man or a woman."
Martin-Wells, 47, has fished since she was a little girl, accompanying her parents on outings on Georgia's Flint River.
She fished her first tournament when she was 23, a Bass N' Gal event on Lake Fork in Texas. She's been fishing in tournaments ever since. And she hopes to score her biggest victory here on Sunday.
"I expect to win," Martin-Wells said. "If I didn't, I may as well stay home and watch it on TV."