RANDY HOWELL: Coming ‘home’ for REDCREST on Lake Norman - Major League Fishing
RANDY HOWELL: Coming ‘home’ for REDCREST on Lake Norman
6m • Randy Howell • Angler Columns
MATT LEE: Mercury pro’s blunt assessment of his 2023 Bass Pro Tour season
1m • Matt Lee • Angler Columns
JACOB WHEELER: The Freeloader made Guntersville a special win
3m • Jacob Wheeler • Angler Columns
ALEX DAVIS: Bass Pro Tour anglers are in for a treat at Guntersville (but bring some Band-Aids)
4m • Alex Davis • Angler Columns
KEVIN VANDAM: ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’
4m • Kevin VanDam • Angler Columns
DAKOTA EBARE: Hoping to carry season’s momentum into Heavy Hitters (and beyond)
5m • Dakota Ebare • Angler Columns
CHRIS LANE: On momentum, Lake Norman history and trying to keep REDCREST in the family
6m • Chris Lane • Bass Pro Tour
MARK DAVIS: From ‘almost’ at Stage One to REDCREST, the year is off to a great start
6m • Mark Davis • Angler Columns
EDWIN EVERS: No more practice. It’s time!
6m • Edwin Evers • Angler Columns
JACOB WHEELER: The steam over ‘the beam’
7m • Jacob Wheeler • Angler Columns
KEITH POCHE: Showing you how to add a little spin to my favorite Florida bait
7m • Keith Poche • Angler Columns
EDWIN EVERS: Simplifying my fishing will help me reach my goals in 2023
7m • Edwin Evers • Angler Columns
KEVIN VANDAM: Seeing is believing with forward-facing sonar
8m • Kevin VanDam • Angler Columns
TIMMY HORTON: My fishing family on the road has my back (and I have theirs)
8m • Timmy Horton • Angler Columns
EDWIN EVERS: It’s not just about fishing
8m • Edwin Evers • Angler Columns

RANDY HOWELL: Coming ‘home’ for REDCREST on Lake Norman

Image for RANDY HOWELL: Coming ‘home’ for REDCREST on Lake Norman
March 7, 2023 • Randy Howell • Angler Columns

It’s been a goal of mine since we started the Bass Pro Tour to qualify for REDCREST, and I finally made it this year to the biggest event we have in MLF. I’ve been close to making it here before, finishing one man out by just 6 points for the first REDCREST in 2019. I had some bad luck catching COVID in 2021 and missed an event for the first time in my 29 years of fishing professionally, leading to my worst-ever points finish as a pro.

The 2022 season was a good one for me, though. I was able to turn things around and have a great season to finish 28th in Angler of the Year points and qualify for both REDCREST and Heavy Hitters. I made a couple of Top 10 finishes, landed the biggest bass of my life two days in a row at Stage One in Louisiana, and was able to set the Bass Pro Tour big fish record on Bussey Brake with a 12-pound giant.

It was a dream year and since professional fishing is all about momentum, it seems like things are clicking just in time for REDCREST. Qualifying has been a long journey, and I plan to make the most of the opportunity.

Heading home

Although I now live in Guntersville, Alabama, North Carolina is home and where I learned to fish. It feels good to come back, even though Lake Norman was never a place I fished when I was growing up.

I lived about four hours away, closer to Lake Gaston, so Norman was a little out of range for the weekend tournaments I fished. The Eastern and Western team trails, Red Mans (now the BFLs), have separate lakes they always fished, so I never really spent time on Norman until we started going there for Bassmaster events back in the day.

It had been years since I had been there, so I went and spent a few days riding around the lake before the Lake Okeechobee Invitational event last month, and I liked what I saw. I never made a cast, but I checked out the entire lake and felt it would fit my strengths.

I plan to stay shallow, and believe that changing to a five-fish tournament will give me a better chance to win. A bladed jig should be a player, and I’ll also be fishing Livingston Lures Howeller crankbait in crawfish colors around the shallow docks. I plan to stick with the dirtier water and cover water because I believe that’ll give me the best chance of winning.

Looking for another championship

My biggest win as a professional was the Bassmaster Classic in 2014 and now, at this stage of my career, I badly want to add a REDCREST trophy. I’ve had a hard enough time just trying to qualify for it against these guys, so winning would be truly special.

I won the Classic when I was 40, and I’m 49 now, so winning another big event would be huge for me at this stage of my career. That momentum from a championship win carries you for the never several years and winning an event of the magnitude of REDCREST goes a long way for your confidence. I won an Open on Oneida after my Classic win, and had another Top 5 at the 2016 Classic two years later, fishing with great confidence.

Whoever the winner is this year will experience this, and I’m hoping it’s me.