Elite Series pro Randy Howell closed out his first B.A.S.S. victory in more than 9 years on Saturday as he caught a 15-05 sack to win the James River Bassmaster Northern Open with a 3-day total of 47-11.
Howell's most recent triumph was a reduced-field Elite 50 tournament on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas in April 2004. Since then, there have been several times that he’s led after a day or two of competition, but he’s never been able to close the deal.
Last year, he led an Elite Series tournament at New York’s Oneida Lake after 2 days, but only weighed in four fish the last day and fell to Boyd Duckett by 6 ounces. On Saturday, he had two fish over 4 pounds early in the morning, but when the bite slowed, he trusted his instincts in a way he had not at Oneida and it paid off.
“At Oneida I had a gut feeling at 12 o’clock and I talked myself out of it,” he said. “I finally went there with 45 minutes left to go and caught some fish, but it was too late. I feel like if I had gone there when I first thought about it, I’d have won.
"Today I felt like I had to run back to a spot within a mile or 2 of the ramp, so I did it, and I culled two times. In the end, I didn’t need it, but I feel good about it and hope that momentum will stay with me the rest of the year.”
In addition to a fully rigged Nitro boat, Howell's prize package also included a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Details of his winning pattern will be published soon.
Below are the final totals for the Top 12:
1.Randy Howell: 47-11
2. Mike Hicks: 41-10
3. Mike Iaconelli: 41-04
4. Kelly Pratt: 40-04
5. Wayne Vaughan: 39-01
6. Pete Gluszek: 38-12
7. Jim Dillard: 38-00
8. Tracy Adams: 36-15
9. Justin Lucas: 36-04
10. Steven Colgin: 35-13
11. Brandon Palaniuk: 35-09
12. Greg Cooper: 31-04