DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

HOWELL WINS THE CLASSIC

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 02/23/2014

Story by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush - Photos by Dave Rush

Birmingham, AL – Alabama’s Randy Howell entered the final day of the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville in 11th place, 9-pounds behind leader Edwin Evers. Howell quickly erased that deficit on Sunday, and came to the Classic stage with a limit weighing 29-2 to win the tournament with a total weight of 67-8.  

The Classic win is Howell’s third career victory with bass, with his first coming in 2004 in an Elite 50 and his second coming in 2013 at the Northern Open on the James River.   

Howell’s come from behind victory will go down in the Classic record books.  Prior to Sunday, an angler had never started the final day of the Classic 11th place or lower and ended up lifting the trophy.   

After vaulting into contention on Friday with the heaviest five-bass limit in Classic history weighing 32-3, B.A.S.S. Nation angler Paul Mueller toted another 24-11 to the scales on Sunday to finish in 2nd place with 66-8.   

The Connecticut angler may very well have become the first B.A.S.S. Nation angler to win the Classic since Bryan Kerchal did it 20 years ago, had it not been for a lackluster performance in the opening round where he only brought three bass to the scales.   

Edwin Evers finished the tournament in 3rd place after entering the final day with a 1-ounce lead.  Evers opened the tournament with limits weighing 26-13 and 20-9, but was unable to hold on to the lead with the 18-5 limit that he brought to the scales on Day Three to push his total weight to 65-11.  The 3rd place finish was Evers’ fourth Top 10 finish in Classic competition.

4th Place on Sunday went to Ott DeFoe, who consistently brought in solid limits weighing 20-10, 22-11, and 20-1 over the three days of competition.  With a total weight of 63-6, DeFoe fell just over four pounds shy of catching Howell.   

Day One leader, Randall Tharp, rounded out the top five with a total weight of 62-12.  As the tournament progressed, Tharp lost touch with the big Guntersville bass, and he managed just 15-7 on championship Sunday.   

Bassmaster College Series angler, Jordan Lee of Auburn, finished in 6th Place after climbing the leaderboard with back-to-back limits weighing 24-0 and 24-10 on Saturday and Sunday.  Lee became the first college angler to make the Sunday cut in Classic competition in the three years that college anglers have competed in the Classic.

1st Place: Randy Howell (20-3, 18-3, 29-2: 67-8)
If you had to look back from the start of practice to right now, what would you identify as your key moment during this event?
"Without a doubt trusting my gut feeling and making that decision to have the confidence in what I know and what I believe in. There were so many key moments today, and everything just clicked.  I was catching fish on the bridge, and I made a snap decision to run to the back of the creek where I had caught a big one in practice. That move alone allowed me to cull a five pounder with a six, and I only won by a pound.  This was the biggest bag I had ever weighed in throughout my career, so things couldn't have gone any better than they did."

What is one key thing you wish you had know on Friday morning?
"When I had 20 pounds on the first day I was thinking there is no way I can have less than that and win the Classic. The second day I didn't have as good a day, but I found those fish around the bridge late on Saturday so I had confidence in that area.  I could see the fish all over the graph, but I had to leave and come back in.  I had intended on starting at a different spot this morning, but my gut told me to go to that bridge.  I wish I would have known those fish had moved up on that bridge sooner, and maybe I wouldn't have had to make it so close."

What was your key bait for this event?
"Most everyday I caught fish on a Rapala DT6, they aren't a sponsor of mine, but it is a really good cold water bait.  Today I caught about the first 20 pounds on the DT6, but ended up catching some key fish on a prototype Livingston Lures crankbait, and also a Gary Yamamoto Fizzle Blade."

Equipment Details:
7 ft Medium Light Daiwa Tatula Cranking Rod
7' 2" Med/Hvy Daiwa Steez Rod
7' 2" Med/Hvy Daiwa Tatula Rod
Daiwa Steez Reel 7:1
Daiwa Tatula Reel 6:3:1
12 LB Gamma Fluorocarbon Line
14 LB Gamma Fluorocarbon Line
16 LB Gamma Fluorocarbon Line

2nd Place: Paul Mueller (9-10, 32-3, 24-11: 66-8)
If you had to look back from the start of practice to right now, what would you identify as your key moment during this event?
"On the first day that storm really muddied up my area pretty badly.  I had been catching my fish on a trap in practice, but on day one of the event the fish weren't eating it well at all.  I made an adjustment on day two and started throwing a Chatterbait.  That adjustment was the key to my tournament, it allowed me to weigh in that big bag on Saturday and come close to winning today."

Looking back, what is one key thing you wish you had know on Friday morning?
"I wish I would have known to throw that Chatterbait sooner."

What was your one key bait for this event?
"My key bait was a 3/8 oz Z-Man original Chatterbait tipped with a Reins Fat Rockvibe Shad."

3rd Place: Edwin Evers (26-13, 20-9, 18-5: 65-11)
If you had to look back from the start of practice to right now, what would you identify as your key moment during this event?
"The first two days I was catching fish early out of the grass on the flats in areas outside pockets with gator grass.  The fish actually started moving in shallower faster than I had anticipated.  It is still really cold out in the main river, but warming up quickly back in those pockets.  I wish I had keyed in on the transition a little sooner."

Looking back, what is one key thing you wish you had know on Friday morning?
"I guess just knowing that it wasn't going to take as much weight as any of us had predicted would have been a help."

What was your one key bait for this event?
"I was using a MegaBass Flap Slap, a vibrating jig, and a MegaBass Knuckle 60 crankbait this week."

4th Place: Ott DeFoe  (20-10, 22-11, 20-1: 63-6)
If you had to look back from the start of practice to right now, what would you identify as your key moment during this event?
"Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday didn't come into play at all for me during this tournament.  I didn't weigh in any fish from a spot where I caught a bass in practice.  The vast majority of the fish I brought to the scales came from places that I had never even fished during practice.

"Understanding that what I had found in practice wasn't working and just going with what the conditions were telling me was the key this week.  I caught a lot of fish on obvious stuff, like bridges and rip rap.  I did catch some fish on some spots I had checked during practice, but hadn't caught anything.  Today I moved out on the main lake and started fishing some river bars and things I had fished here in the past, and was fortunate enough to catch that big one and a few others."

Looking back, what is one key thing you wish you had know on Friday morning?
"I wish I would have gotten on the bridge deal earlier in the event.  That turned out to be really good."

What was your key bait for this event?
"A Rapala DT6 in a custom painted color called pumpkinseed was my key bait.  I did catch a few fish on another little crankbait, and a jerkbait but all of the big ones came on that DT6."

"I fished everything Fenwick Elite Tech Bass 7'8" medium heavy/moderate rod paired with a Pflueger Supreme 5:4:1 gear ratio spooled with 10lb test Berkley 100% flourocarbon."

5th Place: Randall Tharp (27-8, 19-13, 15-7: 62-12)
If you had to look back from the start of practice to right now, what would you identify as your key moment during this event?
"I started the tournament fishing main river ridges and points with a little bit of eel grass, but that kind of went away on me and that was the moment for me. Today I felt like that was going away for me, so I decided to go shallow and started flipping some docks and hard targets like that.  I just really lost my rhythm, and never really got it back after I had that mechanical issue on Saturday. "

Looking back, what is one key thing you wish you had know on Friday morning?
"I wish I would've known that I needed to fish that corner of the bridge that Randy fished."

What was your key bait for this event?
“I mainly threw a lipless crankbait, a jig, and a crankbait.”  

FINAL STANDINGS

PlaceNameDay 1Day 2Day 3Total FishTotal Weight
FishWeightFishWeightFishWeight
1 Randy Howell 5 20- 3 5 18- 3 5 29- 2 15 67- 8
2 Paul Mueller 3 9-10 5 32- 3 5 24-11 13 66- 8
3 Edwin Evers 5 26-13 5 20- 9 5 18- 5 15 65-11
4 Ott DeFoe 5 20-10 5 22-11 5 20- 1 15 63- 6
5 Randall Tharp 5 27- 8 5 19-13 5 15- 7 15 62-12
6 Jordan Lee 4 13- 7 5 24- 0 5 24-10 14 62- 1
7 Todd Faircloth 5 16- 6 5 21- 3 5 23- 8 15 61- 1
8 David Kilgore 5 18-15 5 16-11 5 24-13 15 60- 7
9 Doug Thompson 4 12- 7 5 22- 7 5 25- 5 14 60- 3
10 Adam Wagner 5 14-14 5 24- 3 5 20- 2 15 59- 3
11 Casey Ashley 5 23- 2 5 18-10 5 15-13 15 57- 9
12 Bobby Lane 5 12-15 5 22- 8 5 21- 0 15 56- 7
13 Aaron Martens 5 15-10 5 21-11 5 18- 5 15 55-10
14 Brandon Palaniuk 5 16-11 5 20-14 5 16-13 15 54- 6
15 Morizo Shimizu 5 16-11 5 19- 7 5 17- 8 15 53-10
16 Jonathon VanDam 5 20-11 5 18-10 5 14- 0 15 53- 5
17 Dean Rojas 5 20-14 5 15- 7 5 16- 8 15 52-13
18 Jason Christie 5 22- 3 5 20-11 3 8-11 13 51- 9
19 David Walker 5 24-13 4 9- 6 5 16-15 14 51- 2
20 Ish Monroe 5 18- 8 4 15-13 5 16- 4 14 50- 9
21 Fred Roumbanis 5 23- 2 3 11-10 5 14- 4 13 49- 0
22 Keith Combs 5 20- 3 5 13-15 5 14-14 15 49- 0
23 Chad Morgenthaler 5 19- 5 5 21-14 3 6- 9 13 47-12
24 Coby Carden 5 22- 4 4 12- 3 4 12- 2 13 46- 9
25 Terry Scroggins 5 16-15 5 21-13 1 4-10 11 43- 6