Howell Wins Group B Qualifying Round at Tournament on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

February 16, 2023
Major League Fishing (MLF) Archive

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2023) – Guntersville, Alabama, pro Randy Howell caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 2 ounces, to lead Group B and win Thursday’s Qualifying Round at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Stage One Tournament on the Kissimmee Chain.

Howell held the lead for most of the day, Thursday, before briefly losing it late in the third period to California pro Brent Ehrler. Howell caught a 2-pound, 14-ounce largemouth as time expired to re-claim the lead from Ehrler and earn the Group B win. After starting the day in 20th place, Ehrler weighed in five bass totaling 23 pounds, 1 ounce to vault up the leaderboard and end the Qualifying Round in second place. South Carolina’s Casey Ashley rounds out the top three with 10 bass weighing 34-3.

The remaining 40 anglers – the top 20 from each group – now advance to Friday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Saturday. Weights will carry over from the Knockout Round into the Championship Round, which will feature the final 10 anglers competing for the heaviest two-day cumulative total and the top prize of $100,000. 

“Thankfully, we had another decent day,” Howell said in his post-game interview. “I had a good start to the morning and caught a limit pretty early and that really took the pressure off. I spent the rest of the day practicing around and covering a lot of water. I didn’t find a lot of new stuff, but I did figure out that the area I’m in has quite a bit of fish in it, so I feel pretty good about tomorrow.”

Howell spent the morning targeting fish keying on the shad spawn, rotating through Livingston topwater baits and jerkbaits. He flipped mats later in the day and caught a key fish as time expired – not only to reclaim first place atop the leaderboard, but it also provided him a clue for the Knockout Round.

“Right at the end I caught that one and found another stretch of flipping water that might be good tomorrow,” Howell said. “We got a lot accomplished today and held on for the win, just for the fun of it.

“Tomorrow, we want to be in the top 10 to get to the final day,” Howell went on to say. “It’s been going really good so far, but I want to be here on Saturday fishing for $100,000.

The top 20 pros from Group B that now advance to Friday’s Knockout Round on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes are:

1st:          Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 36-2
2nd:         Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 10 bass, 35-10
3rd:         Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 34-3
4th:         Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 34-1
5th:         Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., eight bass, 33-5
6th:         Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 10 bass, 32-15
7th:         Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, 10 bass, 32-5
8th:         Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 31-9
9th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 31-5
10th:       Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., eight bass, 31-2
11th:       Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 10 bass, 30-3
12th:       Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 10 bass, 29-10
13th:       Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 10 bass, 29-6
14th:       Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 10 bass, 28-15
15th:       Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 10 bass, 28-14
16th:       Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 10 bass, 28-3
17th:       Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., 10 bass, 27-11
18th:       Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., 10 bass, 27-11
19th:       Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 27-0
20th:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 26-4

Overall, there were 302 scorable bass weighing 726 pounds, 3 ounces caught by the 40 pros Thursday.

Thursday’s $1,000 Big Bass Award was awarded to pro Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan, who weighed in a 9-pound, 8-ounce largemouth which bit a bladed swimjig in Period 2. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.