DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

HOWELL LEADS ON THE ST. JOHNS RIVER

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/20/2014

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush

Palatka, FL – 2014 Bassmaster Classic champion Randy Howell is back in a familiar position this week at the second stop of the season for the Bassmaster Elite Series on Florida’s St. Johns River.  With a limit of largemouth weighing 27-3, the Alabama pro leads the field heading into cut day.  

Chasing Howell is a pair of South Carolina pros tied for 2nd place with 24-1.  Both Davy Hite and Marty Robinson weighed-in limits for 24-1 to trail Howell by 3 pounds, 2 ounces.  Ironically, Hite and Robinson each had a massive St. Johns River largemouth anchoring their catches.  Hite’s 10-2 kicker earned Big Bass of the day honors, while Robinson’s 9-9 largemouth proved to be the difference maker for his bag.   

Yet another South Carolina pro, Andy Montgomery, finished the day in 4th place with a limit weighing 22-6.   

Fresh off a 4th place finish last week on Lake Seminole, Takahiro Omori rounded out the top five on Thursday with 22-1.  

In all, 11 anglers broke the 20-pound mark on Thursday, and 35 of the 108 competitors managed at least 15-pounds.   

2012 St. Johns River champion, Alton Jones, finished the day in 19th place with 18-1.  2011 St. Johns champion, Edwin Evers, finished the day in 75th place with a limit weighing 10-14.  

Also of note is the fact that Kevin VanDam is in danger of missing his first Top 50 cut in Elite Series competition since April of 2010 when he finished in 57th place on Pickwick.  With a limit weighing just 9-8 on Thursday, VanDam sits in 87th place and is 4 pounds, 5 ounces outside of the Top 50 cut heading into Friday.

1st Place: Randy Howell (27-3)
Howell on Thursday on the St. Johns River:
“My smallest fish today was about a 2 ½ -pounder, so I had four really good ones and a small one today.  When you’re sight fishing, you just don’t catch a whole lot of fish.  I started on a 5 ½- to 6-pounder, and I caught it.  After that, I caught a limit of little ones and just started looking for new (bed) fish.  

“Late in the day in Florida, it always seems like they move up late.  I always seem to bet the guy who leaves at the wrong time and somebody catches them after I leave.  Today, I stayed late and moved around and ended up finding the big ones.  It turned out to be a good day.

Howell on rebounding after a 106th place finish last week on Lake Seminole:
“At Seminole, I was boat number 100 and I let that affect me mentally and I gave up on all the sight fish that I had located because I knew that so many boats would be in there.  I went out looking for offshore fish.  I knew it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t find the right stuff.  It was a bad decision that I wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t won the Classic.  

“This week, I knew that I had to make the right decisions and do the right things to catch fish, put them on the scale, and have a chance to win the tournament.  I was smarter today and I didn’t take a lot of risks because I found fish during practice.  I just stayed in there and kept the trolling motor down and didn’t leave.”

Howell on catching 27-2 on Thursday after weighing in a 29-pound limit on the last day of the 2014 Classic on Lake Guntersvile:
“The 29-pound bag at the Classic was the biggest limit that I’ve ever weighed in during a Bassmaster tournament.  When I caught that 8-pounder late in the day today, I thought that I had a shot to break that 29-pound mark if I could catch one more big one.  I found another 6-pounder late in the day and I caught it.  I had 10-minutes left and I found another 6-pounder, but I ran out of time and had to leave.  If I had one more big one, I would have broke the 30-pound mark today.....and that would have been awesome.”

2nd Place (Tie): Marty Robinson (24-1)
Robinson on catching his 9-9 kicker:
“I caught that 9-9 at around 10:00.  I felt good after I caught that one because it relieves a lot of the stress.  Your whole game plan is to catch a limit with one or two big fish, and that’s about the best you can ask for with as many boats that are fishing in my area.

“I was easing around trying to be super quiet, and I had a trail where I had gone on the left and the right that were about 20 feet apart.  I decided that I was going to go right down the middle of those two trails.  I was trolling right down the middle and I saw a red spot because it was really slick.  I could see a black log laying the middle of it.  I Polled down about 30 feet from the fish, so the conditions were perfect because she was facing away from me.   

“I probably made two or three casts and I felt a little thump and set the hook.  I thought that she was a 6-pounder, but it turned out that she was a little bit bigger than that.”

Robinson on how he planned his day:
“I knew that I was in a later flight, so I didn’t really concentrate on tying to find the biggest fish (during practice) because I knew that I wouldn’t get to start on them.  I started on a 4-pounder that I had found, but it left the bed.  I caught a few small ones and then I just went looking for the rest of the day.”

Robinson on how many more 8+ pounders he will need to be in contention to win on Sunday:
“I think that you’ll need one over 8-pounds each day.  I think that you’re going to have to catch a great big one each day and the a couple 3-pounders to go with it.”

2nd Place (Tie): Davy Hite (24-1)
Hite on Thursday on the St. Johns River:
“I weighed-in two small fish today and I jumped off a fish that would have helped me by about a pound-and-a-half.  I ended up fishing for a 7-pounder that I had bite a couple times, but I just wasn’t able to catch it.  I’m sight fishing and also just fishing.  I’d say that I’m sight fishing 60% of the time and just fishing 40% of the time.  

Hite on catching his 10-2 kicker:
“I found the fish during practice, but I actually stopped and fished some before I went to it today because that fish was all the way down in Lake George.  I didn’t stop for long though, because that fish was on my mind.  When I got down there and I saw the she was still there and nobody was fishing for her, I knew that I had to put her in the boat.  The fish bit on the first cast but I lost it because I didn’t really stick it that well.  It took about 10 minutes to get her to bite again.”

Hite on the fishing conditions in Lake George after all the pressure on Thursday:
“I want to say that it’s really beat up right now because there was one place where I fished today where there were about 40 boats in a 400 yard area, but Lake George gets that (pressure) all the time.  

“I’ve told people this before and they’ve looked at me like I was crazy, but this is where my wife and I came for our honeymoon 27 years ago.  Lake George was a famous place 27 years ago, so it’s been getting pressure for a long, long time.”  

DAY ONE STANDINGS    

PlaceNameDay 1Total FishTotal Weight
FishWeight
1 Randy Howell 5 27- 3 5 27- 3
2 Davy Hite 5 24- 1 5 24- 1
2 Marty Robinson 5 24- 1 5 24- 1
4 Andy Montgomery 5 22- 6 5 22- 6
5 Takahiro Omori 5 22- 1 5 22- 1
6 Stephen Kennedy 5 21- 6 5 21- 6
7 Mike Kernan 5 20-14 5 20-14
8 John Murray 5 20-13 5 20-13
9 Casey Ashley 5 20- 9 5 20- 9
10 James Niggemeyer 5 20- 5 5 20- 5
11 Greg Hackney 5 20- 2 5 20- 2
12 Justin Lucas 5 19-12 5 19-12
13 Paul Elias 5 19- 5 5 19- 5
14 Russ Lane 5 18-15 5 18-15
15 Chris Lane 5 18-11 5 18-11
16 Matt Reed 5 18- 9 5 18- 9
17 Mark Davis 5 18- 3 5 18- 3
18 Randall Tharp 5 18- 2 5 18- 2
19 Alton Jones 5 18- 1 5 18- 1
20 Dean Rojas 5 17-15 5 17-15
21 Jason Williamson 5 17-14 5 17-14
22 Timmy Horton 5 17-11 5 17-11
23 Jamie Horton 5 17- 9 5 17- 9
24 Hank Cherry 5 17- 2 5 17- 2
25 Zell Rowland 5 17- 0 5 17- 0
26 Aaron Martens 5 16-15 5 16-15
27 Brent Chapman 5 16-12 5 16-12
28 Scott Rook 5 16-10 5 16-10
29 Matthew Herren 5 16- 3 5 16- 3
30 Grant Goldbeck 5 16- 2 5 16- 2
31 Keith Poche 5 15-12 5 15-12
32 Kenyon Hill 5 15- 6 5 15- 6
33 Glenn Browne 5 15- 4 5 15- 4
34 Jacob Powroznik 5 15- 1 5 15- 1
35 David Smith 5 15- 0 5 15- 0
36 Bobby Lane 5 14-13 5 14-13
37 Keith Combs 5 14-12 5 14-12
38 Jeff Kriet 5 14-11 5 14-11
38 Jared Miller 5 14-11 5 14-11
38 Derek Remitz 5 14-11 5 14-11
41 Casey Scanlon 5 14- 9 5 14- 9
42 David Walker 5 14- 7 5 14- 7
43 Rick Morris 5 14- 6 5 14- 6
44 Terry Scroggins 5 14- 5 5 14- 5
45 Chad Morgenthaler 5 14- 3 5 14- 3
46 Mike McClelland 5 14- 1 5 14- 1
47 Scott Ashmore 5 13-14 5 13-14
47 Kevin Short 5 13-14 5 13-14
49 Brett Hite 5 13-13 5 13-13
49 Ish Monroe 5 13-13 5 13-13
51 John Crews 5 13- 6 5 13- 6
52 Michael Simonton 4 13- 4 4 13- 4
53 Jared Lintner 5 12-15 5 12-15
54 Brandon Palaniuk 5 12-12 5 12-12
55 Todd Faircloth 5 12-11 5 12-11
56 Ott DeFoe 5 12-10 5 12-10
56 Shaw Grigsby 5 12-10 5 12-10
58 Cliff Prince 5 12- 8 5 12- 8
59 Tracy Adams 5 12- 7 5 12- 7
60 J Todd Tucker 5 12- 5 5 12- 5
61 Bradley Roy 5 12- 4 5 12- 4
62 David Mullins 5 12- 3 5 12- 3
63 Fletcher Shryock 5 11-15 5 11-15
64 Josh Bertrand 4 11-15 4 11-15
65 Bernie Schultz 5 11-14 5 11-14
66 Byron Velvick 5 11-12 5 11-12
67 Nate Wellman 5 11-11 5 11-11
68 Gerald Swindle 5 11- 7 5 11- 7
69 Tommy Biffle 5 11- 6 5 11- 6
70 Billy McCaghren 5 11- 2 5 11- 2
71 Charlie Hartley 5 11- 1 5 11- 1
72 Joseph Sancho 5 11- 0 5 11- 0
73 Gary Klein 5 11- 0 5 11- 0
74 Greg Vinson 5 10-15 5 10-15
75 Edwin Evers 5 10-14 5 10-14
76 Boyd Duckett 3 10-13 3 10-13
77 Stephen Browning 5 10-11 5 10-11
78 Rick Clunn 5 10- 9 5 10- 9
79 Pete Ponds 5 10- 7 5 10- 7
80 Brandon Lester 5 10- 5 5 10- 5
81 Brian Snowden 5 10- 4 5 10- 4
82 Kevin Hawk 5 10- 1 5 10- 1
83 Chris Zaldain 5 9-14 5 9-14
84 Kenneth "Boo" Woods 5 9-13 5 9-13
85 Fred Roumbanis 5 9-10 5 9-10
85 Jonathon VanDam 5 9-10 5 9-10
87 Kevin VanDam 5 9- 8 5 9- 8
88 Chad Pipkens 5 9- 7 5 9- 7
89 Dennis Tietje 5 9- 5 5 9- 5
90 Morizo Shimizu 5 9- 0 5 9- 0
91 Kurt Dove 5 8-15 5 8-15
92 Cliff Pirch 5 8-12 5 8-12
93 Jason Christie 4 8-12 4 8-12
94 Cliff Crochet 4 8- 5 4 8- 5
95 Skeet Reese 5 8- 2 5 8- 2
96 Michael Iaconelli 5 8- 1 5 8- 1
97 Kelly Jordon 5 7-15 5 7-15
98 Yusuke Miyazaki 5 7-13 5 7-13
98 Jeremy Starks 5 7-13 5 7-13
100 Britt Myers 4 7-12 4 7-12
101 Brandon Card 5 7- 4 5 7- 4
102 Bill Lowen 5 7- 1 5 7- 1
103 Byron Haseotes 4 6- 7 4 6- 7
104 Kotaro Kiriyama 3 5-15 3 5-15
105 James Elam 3 4- 7 3 4- 7
106 Trevor Romans 2 1-14 2 1-14
107 Kelley Jaye 1 1-12 1 1-12
108 Joel Baker 5 1- 8 5 1- 8