By Paul Strege
When Brisbane, Australia native Kim Bain-Moore was approached by a young, wide-eyed girl seeking an autograph at the conclusion of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic weigh-in, everything had come full circle. The realization of what her representation meant as the first woman fishing the Classic set in. It was larger than the 8,000-seat CenturyTel stadium, larger than the 118-mile expanse of the Red River, and much larger than she imagined in her wildest childhood dreams.
Kim started fishing when she was 3 years old. Somewhat of a tomboy, she spent weekends and vacations fishing with her mother, father, and sister.
It was in those early years that her appreciation for the outdoors, and fishing in particular, took root. Her recreational hobby evolved into an obsession, and at a very young age, she became a member of multiple Australian fishing clubs. Those organizations were Kim’s first formal introduction to competitive fishing.
When she was sixteen, her father Steve Bain started directing a tournament circuit. Although Largemouth Bass were not present in Kim’s homeland, it did have “Australian Bass”, similar in appearance and behavior to the North American Striped Bass. The Australia version was characterized as being a hard-fighting fish, susceptible to artificial lures, and offering plenty of sport. The tournaments that Steve conducted mimicked ones in the United States. There were bass boats, professional and amateur divisions, tournament sponsors, and live weigh-ins. Before long, Kim was crossing the stage at her father’s events.
“Fishing in those tournaments exposed me to what fishing was like here in the United States. Around the same time, I started to read magazines and watch my dad’s videos on American bass fishing. I even remember watching videos of Rick Clunn. By the time I turned nineteen, I grabbed my backpacks and fishing rods, and flew over here to check it out.”
Her motivation to try competitive fishing was well supported by her parents. From a young girl begging to fish past sunset, to a teenager trying to prove herself among tournament veterans, Kim’s desire was obvious. Having made some U.S. contacts as a tournament director, Steve made a few phone calls and helped arrange Kim’s first overseas expeditions.
“I have always had a sense of adventure. I liked to catch different species, and tried to learn as much as I could about all different types of fishing. I knew from a very early age that a desk job probably wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something where I could be in the outdoors all the time and professional angling offered that. I also knew there was tremendous opportunity here. America is a country that is very supportive of outdoor professions and where your dreams are embraced.”
The West Coast Days
Kim started by flying to the United States for extended periods of time to fish regional team and Pro/Am events up and down the west coast. While on her piscatorial sabbaticals, she lived and breathed everything fishing. Although her early career was not one of great financial success, she usually earned enough to cover the cost of entry fees. For Kim, breaking-even was secondary to the experience gained. She viewed each tournament as an investment in her future. In 2000, she traveled to Soldier Field in Chicago to attend the Bassmaster Classic that she had heard about for so long, but had yet to experience.
“The first Classic I ever went to was the year when Woo Daves won. I remember walking into the arena and saying to myself, ‘Wow! I can’t believe all these people are here just to see guys weigh-in fish!’ There were brass bands playing music, tens of thousands of people walking around, and the anglers were treated like rock stars. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is it… This is where I want to be!’”
The Classic visit bolstered Kim’s ambition to become a professional angler. Over the next two years, she continued to trek to the U.S. west coast to fish. With an outgoing personality, she developed close friendships with several prominent west coast anglers such as Bob Adkinson in Washington and Mike O’Shea and Rich Tauber of California. Each angler provided a unique perspective on bass fishing and tournament strategy. Their insight helped to accelerate her learning and shaped her early career.
The Western Opens
By 2003, Kim felt that she had gained enough experience to enter the larger, higher-profile B.A.S.S. Western Open tournaments as an amateur. The decision would prove to be a fortuitous one.
“That gave me a tremendous start to my career because I was able to meet many great anglers, gain experience on different lakes, and learn the techniques that are used here in the U.S. It provided me with a starting platform for my career. Coming from a country that did not have largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, I had a lot to learn.”
As a rookie co-angler in the Western Opens, Kim became the first woman to qualify for the Open Championship. She followed that performance the next season with a second consecutive berth. The first two championships she participated in were held on Toledo Bend Reservoir and the Oauchita River, respectively. Both venues were unlike those found on the west coast and required specialized styles of fishing. Nevertheless, she enjoyed the challenge that the southern waters offered.
“Fishing the first couple of Open Championships gave me a little bit of experience down south. I wanted to know what other kinds of fisheries were around the country, and I hadn’t fished much in either the south or the east. So, I was pretty keen to check it out.”
From FLW to WBT
Kim’s ambition to further explore waters around the country led her to the FLW Tour in 2004. She fished as an FLW co-angler for three years. At the beginning of her rookie season, she met Andre Moore, a touring professional and tackle entrepreneur, through mutual friends. They became friends almost immediately and started spending time together at the various tour stops. Andre and Kim quickly fell in love, became engaged, and married a couple years thereafter.
In 2006, Kim decided to take on the professional side of the newly formed FLW Series while continuing with the co-angler side of the FLW Tour. Competing in different divisions of separate circuits was a greater challenge than she first expected.
“Fishing the FLW Series as a boater and the FLW Tour as a co-angler in the same year was difficult. It is a totally different change in strategy going from fishing the back of the boat to the front of the boat. So trying to do both in one year was definitely a challenge. That year, I wasn’t very successful at either part, and looking back on it, I would probably never do it again.”
A couple years later, Kim was fishing professionally on both the FLW Tour and FLW Series, and had two full seasons under her belt. She had become more comfortable with the roles and responsibilities of a touring professional. She continued with the FLW Tour in 2008, but added the B.A.S.S. Women’s Bassmaster Tour (WBT) to her schedule. Kim’s future success on the women’s trail was foreshadowed in her very first event with a win at Lewisville, Texas. That same season, B.A.S.S. allocated a new Bassmaster Classic qualification slot for the WBT Angler of the Year in an effort to further promote competitive fishing among women. With the season-opening victory, she took command of the Angler of the Year race and established herself as the front-runner for the coveted Classic berth.
At mid-season, a scheduling conflict between FLW and WBT required a commitment to a single tour. Kim had to choose. As the WBT points leader, she dropped the FLW Tour from her schedule. Although her decision was not an easy one, she rode the momentum of success in the WBT to a near-impeccable season. Kim finished 1st, 4th, 6th, and 2nd, won the Championship, and led the Angler of the Year race from wire to wire. Most importantly, she qualified for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic.
“It certainly worked out to be a good decision for me. It probably could have gone either way, but life is about following your dreams and taking chances. I have dreamt about the Classic ever since I was a little girl, so it would have been silly for me to not seize the opportunity and finish the WBT season.”
You Can’t Stop a River
Kim’s Bassmaster Classic qualification was the culmination of a decade’s worth of tireless dedication, intense focus, and exhaustive travel. While most aspiring anglers would view the effort required to compete professionally in a foreign country a nearly insurmountable challenge, Kim confronted it straight on.
“There will forever be challenges, but my dad told me to face those by always thinking of your dreams like a river. You can’t ever stop a river from flowing. It might take just a little different direction at times, but it’s always going to keep moving forward. That is how I approach my life. If I ever run into something that isn’t quite working out, I try to choose a different direction to keep moving forward. Everything has been pretty positive that way. I set myself goals and try to achieve them each year. By doing that, it has already helped me to accomplish one of my biggest goals and dreams which were to go to the Classic.”
Kim prepared for the unique challenges of the Bassmaster Classic by focusing on tangible tasks. Although banquets, press interviews, and limited practice are ordinary distractions for Classic competitors, she maintained her competitive composure. When she waited backstage and her selected theme music “Woman” by Australian rock band Wolfmother started resonating through CenturyTel Center, it would be a different story.
“Nothing can prepare you for that moment when you drive into the arena and thousands of people are clapping their hands and cheering for you. I don’t get nervous very often, but I have to tell you that before I drove into that arena, I was absolutely petrified. You wait in this dark alley, they play your music, call your name, and you are brought out into these incredibly bright lights. It was by far the most special moment that I have had in my career. And having my mom and dad over here from Australia to witness that was pretty special.”
Kim’s Classic appearance was a milestone for a sport traditionally dominated by men. If it were not for the participation and commitment of the first female tournament anglers, however, the qualification slot may not have even existed. As a representative of both the WBT and those lady anglers that fished before her, Kim was humbled to be the Classic’s first female representative.
“I feel honored to follow the ladies that put in the hard work and paved the road for me to do this. I certainly have not faced the hardships to the degree of the other ladies. In the eight or nine years that I’ve been here, there have only been a few situations where a guy didn’t want to fish with me because I was female. But, it never was a big deal. In those cases, I just contacted the tournament director and re-partnered with someone else, went out fishing, and had a great day. It’s always been water off a duck’s back. There were a few grumbles from some guys at the Classic, but I know it is always going to be a little more difficult when you are the first to do something. Hopefully, it will be a little bit easier for whoever qualifies next year. And, hopefully the year after that, it will be easier for the next.”
During practice for the Bassmaster Classic, the course of Kim’s journey became self evident when she observed a father fishing with his daughter from the banks of the Red River. That moment was not about being female or from another country. It was about being provided with the opportunity to fish as a child.
“When I came into one backwater area during practice, there was a little girl fishing with her dad. When I saw that, I thought to myself, ‘Wow – that was me 20 years ago!’ Her dad later came up to me at the Classic and said, ‘We saw you when we were fishing together the other day!’ I told him, ‘Right-On! Right-On for taking your daughter fishing!’ If my whole presence at the Classic meant that one dad sitting in the audience would consider, ‘You know what? The next time I go fishing, I am going to take my daughter.’ Then, it was all worth it. That was my job done. All I wanted to do when I went there was to encourage people to go fishing – at any level.”
Kim intends to continue with the WBT in hopes of earning future invitations to the Bassmaster Classic. In addition, she enjoys the camaraderie and diversity in tour destinations that the WBT offers.
“I hadn’t participated in a ladies-only fishing circuit before last year. I had read about other trails like the Women’s Bass Fishing Association (WBFA) and Bass’N Gals, but I was still a little nervous about what it would be like to actually fish one. Once I started fishing the WBT, I really enjoyed myself. The ladies are really friendly, and it is a good time hanging out with women that have the same passion for the sport that I do. I also like that we fish different locations each year. That helps me to learn many different bodies of water, and it challenges me as an angler. And, I really like that.”
Further down the tournament trail of life, Kim’s greatest desire is to continue to share her passion for fishing with other anglers, women, youth, and possibly, children of her own.
“I’d like to have many more successful years on the WBT. Long term, I’d like to start a family. My mom and dad taught me to fish, so I look forward to those days where I can have kids of my own and teach them how to fish. I believe the greatest gift you can give is to teach kids to fish. It keeps the passion of the sport alive.”
Given the exposure that Kim has already generated for the sport, it is clear that she is well on her way to achieving that goal. And being married to a bait manufacturer should allow for many other, younger tackle boxes to be filled in the future.
2003 – First season fishing the Bassmaster Western Opens, Non-Boater.
2003 – First woman to qualify for Bassmaster Open Championship.
2004 – Qualified for second Bassmaster Open Championship.
2004 – First season fishing the FLW Tour as Co-Angler.
2005 – Wal-Mart FLW Tour, 6th Place Season Rank, Co-Angler.
2005 – Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship, 12th Place, Co-Angler.
2006 – First season fishing the FLW Series as Professional.
2007 – First season fishing the FLW Tour as Professional.
2008 – First season fishing the Women’s Bassmaster Tour.
2008 – Women’s Bassmaster Tour, 1st Place, Lake Lewisville.
2008 – Women’s Bassmaster Tour Championship, 1st Place, Lake Hamilton.
2008 – Won WBT Angler of the Year and qualified for Bassmaster Classic.
2009 – First woman to fish the Bassmaster Classic.
1 Top-10 and $19,000 in career FLW winnings.
6 Top-10′s and $140,000 in career B.A.S.S. winnings.
Excerpt from song titled, “Woman” by Australian rock band “Wolfmother”
“She’s a woman;
You know what I mean.
You better listen,
Listen to me.
She’s gonna set you free,
yeah, yeah, yeah.”