Randy Howell Interview
Exclusive interview with Randy Howell where he talks about life as a pro, tournament tactics, and his favorite lures! An HD Video.
Glenn: Hi, I'm Glenn May and I'm with elite pro Randy Howell. Randy, pleasure to have you on here today.
Randy Howell: Man, good to be here, Glenn.
Glenn: Randy, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started into bass fishing and how it progressed to the level that you're at today?
Randy: Man, I have done it my whole life. I'm 35 years old and right out of high school, I went into the Bassmaster Invitationals and the Tour and I grew up in the marina business. My mom and dad had a small fish camp type business on Lake Gastin in North Carolina and being a guide there when I was 11 or 12 years old all the way through high school, they kind of gave me that passion for fishing. And then, competitiveness with basketball in high school, it just kind of went right hand in hand with pro bass fishing and never thought of doing anything other than that.
I just kept progressing through local team tournaments and Red Man Tournament trail back then, made the regionals and made the All American and then you went right into the Bassmasters stuff and started the Top 100 Tour when I was 19 so been doing it about 16 years or so now and I love it and still enjoy it as much every year, more every year and I learn so much every year. It's the only sport I think in the world that you can look back over a year and think, man, I learned all that this year. How did I do so good to this point, not knowing what I know now? And then the next year you do it again and that's what's such a great thing. I'm a student of the sport and it's a great sport to learn.
Glenn: Now what would you say would be the one defining moment in your life that changed your life forever?
Randy: Probably when I was 18 years old. I had ulcerated colitis, colon disease when I was 15, and me and my wife Robin got married when we were 18, a year after high school and I had that disease and I was starting in the Pro, trying to go into the Pro ranks at that time and my colon burst while I was at a Red Man Regional Tournament in Georgia and I had to go to emergency surgery and I was in the hospital 2 weeks, lost 40 pounds, had my whole colon, part of my colon removed, had a heliostomy bag on my side, had to go to Duke Medical Center for two more additional surgeries and had everything taken out, everything reconstructed over about a four month period.
And then I continued, went right into the BASS ranks after that and so, just going through that on a personal note. I'm a Christian anyway and that really put everything in perspective. It showed me what's really important in life and how your health and your family and your faith are more important than any fish has ever been. So that's the thing, having your priorities right means more than anything.
Glenn: Absolutely, absolutely. Now fishing at the level you're at today, strategy plays a very important part to your success. Does strategy, is that the same as you approach each tournament or is that different?
Randy: It's typically the same at most of our events all through the season on the Elite series, when we're fishing for points but the Bassmaster Classic, this is my eighth Classic, and every Classic I come into, I usually have, I try to have a different mindset because, just in this event, I've got an area that I can run a long ways to and catch, and probably have a top 20 finish, and have a safe finish, which would be good for points but instead I'm going to gamble and go into some different areas that I really don't know for sure what I can catch, but I know they have a better potential for bigger fish and that's the way you got to think in the Classic because it doesn't matter if you finish second or 50th, 51st first is all that counts in the Classic. And that's what everybody says, and it sounds like a cliché but it's just true. Nobody knows who finishes second, they just want to know who wins.
Glenn: Well, about the tournaments for the rest of the season, do you approach those differently?
Randy: I do, really. I fish, I'm more of a consistent type angler. I fish for limits and I fish for just keeping the live well full and little by little, I can cull out, and I like to do that. But like last year, out of the 11 Elite Series, I think I had eight top 20, top 25, or top 30's, you know, just consistency. Finished eighth in the points because of that and that's what pays the bills and does good and I'd rather do that than to win one and still not make the Classic and still finish seventh and win a tournament and, you probably make the same amount of money, but you still consistent-wise with all the sponsors. Just being a staple in the sport, having staying powered, that's what get's you paid.
Glenn: Now is your strategy going to be any different this season than it has been in the past?
Randy: Looking forward, not really. No, everything, I've been doing it for a long time and I have a system that's kind of simple. I fish kind of by the seat of my pants, so to speak. I'm an instinct fisherman more than I am a study, as far as reading a map and looking at something and saying that's where I'm going to catch them. I got out and just go by feel and stop and I might fish 10 different ways in a days time to catch five fish. So that's what I'll continue to do and hopefully get a break here or there and win again. I haven't won one in about four years. The E-50 in '04 at Dardanelle but we are going back to Dardanelle this year where I won my last one, so I'm looking forward to that. So, we'll see what happens.
Glenn: Now if you have a bad day out on the water, how do you get back in the game? How do you mentally refocus yourself and get right back in there?
Randy: That is the age old question, because that's what can ruin more guys. Everybody out here that's in the Classic and ones that are not in the Classic all have basically the same potential and the talent. Everybody out here is good at what they do. But that mind game and that decision and the way you process stuff and the way you handle failure, just like the way you handle winning. Handling failure correctly is more important than knowing how to win, I think. And that's what keeps you levelheaded and balanced. You got to be levelheaded and balanced. Shake it off and learn from everything you do, whether it's good or bad. You got to learn from it. And most time, you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes so that's the main thing. Just learning everyday and not repeating those mistakes if you can help it.
Glenn: Right, oh yeah.
Glenn: You've been in the pro level for quite a long time, as you mentioned, and I'm sure you've heard a lot of people come up and ask you questions that maybe they don't quite understand what it's like to be a pro and the lifestyle that you lead.
What do you think is the biggest misconception of being a pro?
Randy: Probably that we, one thing you hear all the time, we got it and we got it made. We fish, all we have to do is fish. We get to fish all the time. That's all we do is fish and that is so deceiving because I thought that way before, when I was first starting out. I thought I wanted to be a pro because I love to fish and I just want to go fishing all the time and when you get out here and you turn into a business and you start having success at it and you start getting sponsors in order to pay your bills and make a living, then your fishing time goes way down and you have to learn the business side of it and you got to be all things to all people so to speak and do it to play the whole game right to really do well at it.
And that cuts down a lot of times on your fishing time. I mean, I don't fish very much at all, honestly, like I used to. Like during the off season, I probably fished maybe 8 or 10 times in the last four months, for or five months, probably four months. It's like riding a bicycle. You don't forget how to fish when you do it for a living, you do it all the time. A lot of times, I like to have that break and time away from it because it gets that passion rekindled to fire, makes you really want it bad. Like now, I'm itching to go tomorrow and get started in the tournament because I haven't fished a lot lately and so I'm excited about it.
Glenn: Now working with your sponsors, as you said, takes a little bit more time off the water. You're probably working with them in product development and helping improve their products. How much involvement do you have, how much input do you have and say over some of the stuff they come out with each year?
Randy: It's pretty neat. The older I get and the longer I've been in it, the more you start being requested to do stuff with sponsors and that's a plus, because I love being able to have input in stuff, just like with Quantum, made a signature series rod for me, a 7 foot medium light. It's kind of a shallow crank bait type rod. They made it just like I want it made and it's an awesome rod. I have a lot of confidence and I fish my best when I'm using stuff that I know I had some input in.
As well with Molix, its an Italian company doing some work on different crank baits that they have and AC Plugs, a new swim bait company that I signed with and AC Plugs I'm going to have a signature series line of swim baits. Swim baits that are going to be more suited for the central and east coast areas instead of swim baits like in the west coast.
Randy: Yeah. So we're in development right now and going to have some really neat stuff, some really photo finish really real, realistic looking shad and some different swim baits.
Glenn: Now how many of your ideas end up in the final product?
Randy: It all depends on who it is and what you're doing. Most of the time, it's mostly they do little fine details are the stuff that ends up in there. Most of the times the companies and the people that make the products, they come out with the basic, all around bare necessity of the bait, what it needs to be like. And then when I take it, like all of us, and we tweak it and we make it wobble a little better, we make it sink a little slower or float a little faster. Whatever we do with it, that's the little keys to making it from good to better and best and that's what we do.
Glenn: Wow, so it sounds like a lot of work. How much time does that take, going back and forth, before you finally come out with a final product that you like?
Randy: It's a lot of ship time. A lot of UPS and stuff back and forth, back and forth, but I've got a little lake there in my neighborhood and I can just walk right out the door, go across the little cul de sac and on the bank and cast baits out and try them out, check them out and go back to the phone or computer and say let's do this or that or I can go down to the basement and change hooks or put some weight on something and tweak with something and go try it again and that's kind of what, it can take, with a fishing rod, it was a little more simple.
Tell them we need a little stiffer on the butt end, a little lighter on the tip and it took them about three or four different prototypes before we got it just right. But on lures, the lures sometimes are the trickiest thing, you know? And I'm not by any means an expert on developing a lure. I mean, I have the ideas and I know the stuff that I want to see a lure do to make it really good but knowing at how to make it do that, now I'm not good at. I'm not an engineer mind at all, so it takes a good blend of the right engineer mind with a little bit of fishing expertise and that's what makes good baits, I think.
Glenn: Fantastic. Well Randy, I want to give you a moment now, what I call the shameless plug moment. You can talk about your different sponsors that you have or say hi to your fans that are out there or anything that's coming up. You got a DVD, book coming out? Anything you want to talk about, the floor's completely yours.
Randy: Man, I got a lot of stuff I could talk about when you give me the floor. I do say hey to all my fans and all the people that watch us and keep up with it. I appreciate all the support and always check us out at RandyHowell.com. You can keep up with my website, read my testimony and my sponsors and stuff like that but I got a DVD coming out that you might have heard from some of the other guys that it's me and Jimmy Houston, Mike McClellan, Jeff Kriet, and Ken Cook did a Top Ten Bass Lures of All Times, a research type deal that this company did and has everybody's input from both tours on secret ballots.
So the lures were picked accurately and the top ten lures, they made a video and we're on the video demonstrating the different lures and it's going to come out, I think it's probably coming out now and it'll probably be in Bass Pro. It'll be in, it's probably going to be in Wal-Mart. It's going to be everywhere eventually. It's going to be packaged really neat. Probably be $19.95 like most things are, or something like that. That's going to have a lot of information on certain lures, how to fish them and then here at the Classic, my wrap this year, I don't have Purolator anymore. Purolator pulled out of the sport.
They got bought out by another company and some things changed, so it's disappointing to not have them because I've been with them 6 years but, so now my boat wrap here at the Classic I'm unveiling, I've done this big Christian fish symbol here with John 3:16 in it. That's on the side of my boat and TheBasementOnline.com, which is a non-profit Christian ministry in Birmingham. It has five or six thousand people every Tuesday night, a big youth type rally and that's what I've got on my boat.
Just kind of bring some light to that but BlueWaterLED.com, which is right under this, is Bluewater LED lights that you put on the boat in the compartments. You can really light your equipment up and see good at night. Really great for any fisherman or any boat, any compartments on motor homes, campers, anything like that's. That's going to be part of my wrap this year and it'll be shown in the Classic in the arena this week so that's something that people can check out as well.
Glenn: That'll be cool.
Randy: So other than that, you know, Triton Mercury, all my good sponsors, Secret Weapon Lure, Recoil Rigs, a neat little rig I'm promoting this year that's really good. I'm hoping to catch some fish on that tomorrow and everybody, I appreciate everybody's support and sponsorship and we got to all work together to bring the industry back and make it stronger this year, with the economy stuff.
The economy doesn't need to affect our sport because we have a passion for fishing and all our fans have a passion and that's what we got to portray and get out there and let people know that no matter how tough times are, they still got to do what they do what they love to do and you got to spend money to go fishing and have a good time. Whatever it takes, you can't quit doing things you love and the things that are good for your family, spending time, quality time fishing is one of the best things you can do, so . . .
Randy: That's my two cents on the open floor.
Glenn: You mentioned the Top Ten Lures and I was kind of curious, if you could have them bring back one discontinued lure what would that be?
Randy: Oh my goodness. Let's see. There's a lot of old baits. I'm trying to think. Well, the first thing that comes to mind is probably an old Balsa B, you know, like the old original brass eye Balsa B crank baits but I've got some people that make them for me homemade now, like Custom Lures Unlimited and then TC Cranks out of Kansas. Couple different people that are making them probably as good or better than they were made originally, but still I've got a couple old, original Bagley's that I have a lot of confidence in that I know work really good and if they could really remake that exactly the way it was, that'd probably be a good one to bring back.
Glenn: Well, Randy, you know a couple of years ago you were involved with the Mojo Ring that we passed around all across the country and I just want to thank you personally for being involved with that. That meant an awful lot to us.
Randy: It was fun. I'll tell you, it was a lot of fun.
Glenn: It was great knowing that at the Classic you actually had that in your pocket.
Randy: Oh, it was, it was. It was good luck too man. After that first day of catching nearly 20 pounds of spots on Lay Lake. I thought man, this is the deal. I'm never giving this back if I win this Classic.
Glenn: Well Randy, thank you so much for being with us today. I appreciate it and everything you do and you do real well out there on the tournaments. I hope you place real well.
Randy: I'm looking forward to it, man. Thank ya'll for keeping up and doing a good job for our sport and ya'll always make sure you watch BassResource.com. They keep you up to date on all the real stuff that's going on in the fishing industry.
Glenn: Thank you sir.