His story lacked the likely course, but Miles Howe’s road to the FLW Tour proved that great things await those who A) recognize their passion and B) have the guts to pursue it.
The San Juan Capistrano, Calif., angler has established himself in Western competition, including this division of the Costa FLW Series, where he placed second in the 2003 points and eighth in 2017 and has never finished lower than 43rd in the season standings. Howe’s pleased with his success, including top 10s at Shasta Lake (2016) and the California Delta (2013), but he knew that accepting an invitation to fish the FLW Tour was the right move at the right time.
“I fished good this year; I cashed checks at five major Western tournaments, including the U.S. Open, the California Open and the Costa events at the Delta and Clear Lake,” Howe says. “I just fished a lot better this year. My confidence was high, and when you fish with confidence, it shows.”
Howe attributes this standout season to his new mindset: Play your own game.
“There are tournaments when you just want to cash a check, and I’ve come to realize you can’t fish like that,” he says. “You have to go out there and read the water, and I feel like I started reading the water a lot better this year.
“You can get stuck in listening to too many guys, and I just broke away from all of that. I did my own thing all year. I didn’t really network with a lot of guys, and that really helped me with the confidence thing. I’m zigging when I’m supposed to zig, and I’m zagging when I’m supposed to zag.”
Growing up in Laguna Beach, Howe found his earliest angling inspiration on California beaches and piers. He eventually learned of the bass opportunities in area lakes such as Lopez and Santa Margarita, but Howe says the majority of his early freshwater pursuits involved sneaking onto golf courses and farm ponds.
As he notes, bass fishing ranks pretty far below surfing in Southern California, but while others were hanging 10 and polishing their cutback, Howe was working on his pitching skills and dialing in his drop-shot game.
“I just fell in love with bass fishing,” Howe says. “It’s so much different than ocean fishing where you drop a line down. I got turned on to bass fishing because it was such a visual type of fishing – casting at laydowns and things that look super-fishy and catching topwater fish. Once I got hooked, I was completely hooked.”
Joining a local bass club expanded Howe’s knowledge and experience, but he wanted more. So, with the encouragement of fellow Western angler Manas Malikian, he signed up for the Costa FLW Series and took his early AOY runner-up achievement as evidence of his competitive ability.
“I knew that I was ready for it, and I never looked back,” Howe says.
Helpful in his competitive schedule is the southern California parking lot management company Howe owns. Setting his own hours and collecting a regular paycheck not only helps manage a young family (8-year-old son Liam and 6-year-old daughter Maliah), it also eases tournament fishing’s inherent economic pressures.
Notably, Howe received a Tour invite after his rookie Costa FLW Series season, but with two young children in the house, he declined. Now, he believes the timing is right for the big move.
“I have a super supportive wife [Tawny], and she’s the one that’s been pushing me to take it to the next level,” Howe says.
Looking ahead to his rookie Tour season, Howe says he’s most excited about experiencing new fisheries and learning new techniques in the eastern U.S. He sampled some of that during his trips to the last three Costa FLW Series Championships (Kentucky Lake in 2017, Table Rock in 2016 and the Ohio River in 2015) and returned home with sharper skills and heightened passion.
“I’ve really enjoyed fishing those places; they’re new and challenging,” Howe says. “I think this sport is all about growth, and to get to where I want to be I have to take these steps. I have to challenge myself against the best fishermen out there.
“It’s a huge step, coming from the West Coast. That first trip to Florida is going to be a long trip. The biggest thing was the logistics. Making this step is a huge commitment, and I know I couldn’t do it without my family’s support.”
Howe’s long-term vision includes an eastward relocation, possibly to Tennessee, where he could remain close to the bass fishing heartland. He’s done it once before. In 2007, Howe moved to central Texas to pursue a real estate development job. Howe ultimately decided to go back west, but fishing Texas lakes every day after work and bagging his personal best – a 12-pound, 13-ounce toad – lit a fire to move east that has been smoldering ever since.
Howe believes the finesse skills he’s honed in Western fisheries will serve him well on the 2018 Tour, particularly in deep, clear fisheries like Lake Lanier and Smith Lake. His goals? Cashing checks, while certainly a fundamental objective, ranks behind nabbing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I really want that Rookie of the Year title. That would be a dream come true,” Howe says. “That would solidify where I need to be.”
Howe’s clear on the necessary changes to family life, and he’s quick to thank Tawny for her unwavering support and encouragement.
“This is a big step; it’s a career-changing step,” Howe says. “There’s a lot on my shoulders, but everyone has to start somewhere.
“My goal is to grow in this sport. I want new challenges. I want to become a better fisherman, and I think this is how I’m going to do it.”