(Editor's note: Randy Howell contacted BassFan on Sunday to clarify his description of the protest. He said two anglers notified BASS about a possible rules violation, not one. His additional notes appear immediately below in blue.)
Howell: There was a misunderstanding. Two anglers had notified Trip (of a potential rules infraction). The first was a longtime friend of mine. He was following the rules and procedures. Who the other angler is – the one who was persistent – I don't know.
What I wanted to reinforce is that anglers should always report rules violations. That's very important. But I wanted to stress that those who report an angler should stand face-to-face with that angler. You should know who accuses you. That's what I was trying to say.
After day 1 of the Santee Cooper Bassmaster Elite Series, three pros – Alton Jones, Randy Howell and Kevin Langill – were administered a polygraph (aka lie-detector) test.
In the following Q&A, Howell discusses the reason for his polygraph, and what the experience was like.
BassFan: Were you nervous before the test?
Howell: I'd heard bad stories about it, so I was nervous. Even though I knew I'd be telling the truth, I was nervous.
I called and talked to Earl Bentz (of Triton Boats) and told him what was going on. We talk a lot, and he said not to worry.
To tell you the truth, polygraphs work. I passed it all three times. They give it to each person three times in a row, to make sure they get the right readings, I guess.
What was unfortunate was that it had come to where I had to take one.
To get straight to the point, why did you have to take it?
I guess because one angler was persistent that I needed to take one. (BASS tournament director) Trip (Weldon) asked me if I would take it. He said he had to give a couple of other guys one, and it was not fair to have them take it if I wasn't going to.
I told him I'd take it.
That was before the tournament began, right?
Yes, and that was probably one of the toughest days I've ever spent in a tournament, with the anxiety of knowing I had to do that. And the polygraph guy said if I wasn't nervous, something was wrong.
One thing about BASS, they believe in the integrity of the rules. Nothing is compromised. If anything happens, Trip gets to the bottom of it. That's why it's such a reputable organization. That's why I fish them.
What was it you were accused of?
Idling and having a partner trying to look for fish. It was the same rule that everybody else had the problem with.
On the first day of practice I had my brother-in-law practicing with me. We got hung up on a stump, and it was one of those situations. He cranked it up to get me off the stump and idle me over in an emergency situation, which is legal.
An angler who was there close to me didn't think we were supposed to do that. I called Trip and asked, and he said it was an emergency (so it was legal). I assured him we were not looking for fish.
Well, that angler later decided to tell Trip. He was persistent that I broke a rule.
So you took the polygraph. Tell us about that.
I took mine second, and it was like waiting on death row. It took the first guy (Langill) like 2 hours or so, and then I was in there for an hour and a half. Alton was after me.
I learned a lot about the test. The man (giving the test) said, "I can tell you're an honest person. Don't ever kill somebody – you'll never get away with it."
So you feel you were wrongly accused?
Yes. Absolutely. The bad thing about it is with all the money and points on the line, there are a few people out here who the competitiveness gets to.
I think there should be a new rule that says if there's a guy who accuses somebody of something, he should take a polygraph too. If he fails for lying, he should get DQd.
So you're saying this came down to your accuser being dishonest?
There's so much on the line nowadays. When you get 100 guys, you will not have 100 guys with good intentions and good hearts who are honest people, unfortunately.
You'll see more stuff like this happen in the future. I even told Trip that we need to have some tweaking done on some of these rules.
> Howell declined to name the one angler he knew who lodged a protest.
> BASS reinstituted its polygraph rule this season after a 3-year absence.
> The reason for Langill's polygraph is unknown. BASS declined to comment on its purpose, and Langill did not respond to messages left by BassFan requesting comment.
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