All anglers pray for a perfect day on the water, especially when they are a contender in the Bassmaster Classic. Randy Howell followed his gut and a small still voice to find an answered prayer on Sunday. Howell’s victory is the first after 11 previous attempts for a Classic win. Five bass totaling 29 pounds, 2 ounces won $300,000 along with the most coveted award in the sport of professional bass fishing. A native of Springville, Ala., Howell became the second angler in history to win the Classic in his home state. Howell, is a two-time Bassmaster winner, one being the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open event that earned him his 2014 Classic qualification.
By following his intuition, Howell began culling Lake Guntersville giants early in day three of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro. It was unknown as to how many culls it took him to make but it was a day of culling 4 and 5 pound fish for bigger ones to end up with the victorious bag of bass that kept the trophy in Alabama with the largest bass at 7 pounds and 3 ounces. Bassmaster MC Dave Mercer ask Howell about he felt about the bag that he had brought his bag to the scales for a three day total of 67 pounds, 8 ounces. Howell commented a powerful statement, “I don’t even know if I’m going to win, but it doesn’t matter, it was the best day I’ve ever had in 21 years of professional bass fishing, a day of a lifetime.”
A teary Howell made this comment after being announced as the winner, “I’ve had this dream so many times, and it’s happening now. I can’t believe I won the Bassmaster Classic. I don’t win tournaments very often.”
Howell was victorious by only 1 lb as B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., was close behind. Mueller, set a new one-day Classic weight record on Day 2 with a 32 pound, 3 ounce total and with Sundays bag finished him in second place with a total three day weight of 66 pounds, 8 ounces.
Third place went to the second-day leader Nitro Boats Pro, Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., who finished with 65 pounds, 11 ounces. Fourth place was wrapped up with another Nitro Boats Pro Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., with a total three day weigh in totaling 63 pounds, 6 ounces, including the final day’s largest bass, at 8 pounds 4 ounces. First-day leader Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., finished the championship in fifth place at 62 pounds, 12 ounces after holding close to the top the first two days of the Classic.
In the press conference following the event, Howell told reporters, “I caught my first one on my second or third cast,” he said. “I caught one almost every cast or two and had a limit in the first 10 or 15 minutes. It was quick. It would have been quicker if I hadn’t had to stop and retie every time because of the rocks.”
The rocks that Howell spoke of were the riprap up against a causeway bridge on Spring Creek. A place that he said a small still voice and a feeling in his guy told him to fish. “I was headed to the spot that I had told the camera boat that I was going to fish. A sick feeling came over me, and I turned the boat and headed to Spring Creek.”
Howell spent most of the final day fishing the riprap moving only once to the back of the creek to fish a grassy area which resulted in a solid 6-pounder and the cull of a 4-pounder. Howell’s winning lures included a Livingston Lures prototype that he and other pro-staff were developing that will soon be available to the public. “The was stained so I grabbed a box of lures that Livingston had given me just before the Classic looking for a medium diver in a crawfish color. When fishing the Classic isn’t a good time to try a new bait but I needed that color.” Howell reported. He also told the group that he had used a Rapala DT6 crankbait in the “demon” crawfish color and a Yamamoto bladed jig to cull to the limit he brought in.
“I went out this morning believing I could win,” Howell said. “That’s the weirdest thing. Typically, I would never be in 11th place and 9 pounds back and think I had a chance to win. But for some reason I had the feeling I could win on Spring Creek, that something big would happen there.”
Howell earned $300,000 with an additional $7,500 Toyota Bonus Bucks award.
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