John's Journal...

2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell - from Good to Great: $15,000 to $300,000 in 8 Hours of Bass Fishing

Day 3: The 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell Explains That Mountains Are Moved by the Prayers of Children

Editor’s Note: The 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion HYPERLINK "(" ( Randy Howell HYPERLINK "(" ( of Springville, Alabama, qualified for the 2014 Classic held at Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Ala. HYPERLINK "(" (, because he won the Northern Bassmaster Open tournament in Richmond, Virginia. He also qualified by being in the top 35 anglers in the Angler-of-the-Year race on the Bassmaster Elite Series circuit, finishing in 23rd place, thanks to three top-10 finishes on the Elite Circuit.

Click for Larger ViewMy family and I attend the Church of the Highlands ( in Birmingham, Alabama. At the first of November, our church begins 21 days of prayer and fasting. My family and I would gather around our home computer at 8:45 am every morning and watch live streaming of the church service from the Church of the Highlands. On the last Sunday of this prayer and fasting celebration, we went to church. In the adult and children’s services, the message was on prayer. When my youngest son, 8-year-old Oakley, came out of church, I asked him what he’d learned at church. He replied, “We learned about prayer. Our teacher asked us to write a prayer down on a piece of paper.” He handed me his piece of paper, which said, “Dad win the Classic.” I teared up and told Oakley I thought it was great he was asking the Lord for a miracle like me winning the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. The next morning I got up, went to the bathroom and saw that my wife, Robin, had taped Oakley’s prayer request to my mirror. I asked Robin about the note, and she answered, “The boys and I will be praying that prayer every day from now until the Classic is over in February, 2014.”

Click for Larger ViewAll the anglers had 3 or 4 days to practice for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, just before the tournament began. On the first day of tournament practice, I fished all day long and didn’t get a bite. On the second day of practice, I caught two small bass in the back of Spring Creek. On the third day of practice, I had three bites in that same area. Given my moderate success at Spring Creek, I decided I would probably fish the back end there on the first day of the tournament. But we had one more practice day until the tournament started on Friday. So, I went to check out Mill Creek. I saw some bass on my depth finder holding in deep water just off the riprap (large boulders on the side of the road used to hold a road bed in place at creek and river crossings) at Mill Creek. Even though I hadn’t found any big schools of bass, I still felt confident I could win the tournament. I knew from the weather forecast a big rain was coming the night before the Classic started, creating a strong current coming from Mill Creek on the first competition day. When current came through Mill Creek, it would pull the largemouth bass out of the deep holes and up to the riprap. On the first day of the tournament, I felt confident that the bass I had seen holding out in deep water would move up to the riprap and start feeding there. So I changed my game plan from fishing the back of Spring Creek on the first morning of the tournament to fishing the riprap at Mill Creek.

Click for Larger ViewOn the first morning of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, as we were driving to the launch site, I saw red, muddy, clay-colored water running down the sides of the banks and into the creeks. So, I knew Mill Creek would be too muddy to fish. When I left the launch site, I went to the back of Spring Creek instead of Mill Creek. Normally, when my practice goes as bad as it did before the Classic, I’d begin to tell myself why I couldn’t win the tournament. But on this day, I still felt confident for absolutely no reason. All during the week before the tournament began, I had an unusual belief that I could win the Classic, even though my practice days had been terrible. When I got to the back of Spring Creek, I instantly saw that the water was too muddy to fish. So, I turned around and went to Mill Creek. I spent the first 4 hours of the first competition day at Mill Creek, and I caught about 15 pounds of bass I would be able to weigh-in. Shortly thereafter, I went to Town Creek to fish and was able to cull one or two bass with bigger bass that I had just caught. Then I went to the Town Creek Bridge to fish the riprap and caught a large number of small bass. At the end of the day, I decided to return to the back end of Spring Creek and caught a really big bass allowing me to cull another smaller bass I’d caught earlier in the day.

Click for Larger ViewI was feeling confident until I went to the second Spring Creek Bridge, and I didn’t even get a bite. The water had warmed-up to 50 degrees, but the weather was still cold. I could see the bass holding in deep water on my depth finder - just a little ways out from the riprap. So, I decided maybe the water would be clearer on the back end of Spring Creek. Luckily, I caught a 4-pound bass and then a 6-pound bass flipping the grass with a Fizzle Blade jig HYPERLINK "(,%20" (, even though the water was muddy. At the end of the first day of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, I weighed in 20 pounds, 3 ounces for a five-bass limit. I was in 12th place after the weigh-in. Randall Tharp took first place over Edwin Evers, pushing my dream of winning the Classic further outside the realm of reality.

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Also, please check back with this website next week to learn about John E. Phillips’ latest Kindle eBook – “Outdoor Life’ Complete Turkey Hunting, 2nd Edition” - and John’s reprint of his very-popular print book, “The Turkey Hunter’s Bible, 2nd Edition,” and where to buy them.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell Stays in the Hunt But Is in 12th Place Before the Classic’s Day 2

Check back each day this week for more about 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell - from Good to Great: $15,000 to $300,000 in 8 Hours of Bass Fishing"

Day 1: The Choice between Reason and Faith with Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell
Day 2: When 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell Didn’t Have the Faith to Listen to the Voice
Day 3: The 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell Explains That Mountains Are Moved by the Prayers of Children
Day 4: 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell Mentally Stays in the Hunt But Is in 12th Place before the Classic’s Day 2
Day 5: 2014 Bassmaster Classic Champion Randy Howell Says God Told Him to Go to Spring Creek and Asked, Do You Want to Be Good Or Do You Want to Be Great?

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Entry 760, Day 3