Original Caption: Wanda Fishs (sic) 60 days a year, mostly tournaments...she pulls aboard a small bass in a practice session. Florida Today, July 1985, photo credits: Staff photos by Bill Sargent.

In today’s Throwback Thursday historical photo, we again look to the ladies’ professional circuit and revisit a Florida Today story from 1985 featuring Wand Tester.

Wanda got interested in bass fishing because of her husband, Ray Tester, who also fished professionally.  According to the Bassmaster website, Ray fished 53 events between 1978 and 1990, never qualifying for a Classic, but cashing checks in 18 of those events.  His best finish was a 3rd place in the 1983 Super B.A.S.S. event held in Palatka, FL that garnered him a $15,000 check.

In the local newspaper write-up on Wanda, it mentioned her stats at that time, saying:

“Wanda has never won one of the major events but she is one of the most consistent pros on the tour.  You can count on her being among the top 20 and near the top in the season standings.

“Among her best finishes have been a fifth at the Texas Invitational on Bob Sandlin Reservoir and sixth at the Florida Invitational at Lake Talquin in 1984.  In 1981, she was among the top 10 at the Alabama Invitational on Lake Eufaula.  Two weeks ago, she finished what she termed a ‘disappointing’ 19th at a Lady Bass national in Missouri.

“On last year’s Bass’n Gal circuit, Wanda was second in the overall season standings going into the final tournament.  Her hopes of winning the coveted Angler of the Year title – for the top points angler on the tour – were dashed by bad luck in the final event.  She currently stands 11th in the Bass’n Gal standings and 10th with Lady Bass.”

Despite living in Florida, Wanda was a light tackle specialist, preferring 8- to 10-pound line in reservoirs, and only 10- to 12-pound test monofilament in Florida’s natural lakes and rivers.

Plastic worms listed as her favorite bait, including the Ditto Gator Tail worm, but crankbaits were her next favorite bait.  In particular, she liked to fish Rapala Shad Raps in shallower water, and Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps and Bagley DB-III’s in deeper haunts.

Original Caption: Wanda's husband, Ray, often helps her in practice...Also a bass pro, he can relate to tournament pressures. Florida Today, July 1985, photo credits: Staff photos by Bill Sargent.

She preferred to cover a lot of water in practice, often picking a point that she didn’t want to travel past, then spend half of her practice time fishing all the water on one side of a lake up to that point, and the other half of her time fishing the opposite side on her way back to the ramp. She also switched baits regularly, often every 15 minutes, until she could determine a pattern or a preferred presentation.  She spent as many as 60 days a year on the water, often during tournaments.


For more on the early ladies of bass fishing, click this link.