Photo by Josh Gassmann
By Joel Shangle - January 13, 2019
ARDMORE, Okla. – Almost from the minute Randy Howell’s boat official backed him into the waters of Lake Murray, Oklahoma for the second Elimination Round of the 2019 Summit Select, Howell knew that he would have to work fast to guarantee himself a spot in Sudden Death.
With morning temperatures already starting to soar and the shad spawn fading, Howell made the decision to focus his Period 1 attention on an island near the launch on Lake Murray State Park. It was an obvious-looking spot and one that got plenty of attention throughout the day, but one that Howell banked on to start his day.
“You could just look at that island and tell that there was a very small area that had the potential for a shallow bite,” Howell said. “There was this one little area of that island with lily pads and grass, and I saw several big birds standing there. We had a shad spawn going on, and I figured that that one area was going to be the ticket the first hour before it got really tough.”
Howell surmised correctly.
Throwing a black Lunker Lure Buzzin Toad, Howell connected with a 6-pound, 7-ounce giant, and backed that up with two more scorable fish in the next eight minutes to guarantee himself enough weight to not only advance to Sudden Death, but to win the round outright (he eventually finished with 13-10 to second-place finisher JT Kenney’s 10-0).
“I ran down the lake during the Ride Thru and got back to that spot just in time to start,” Howell admitted. “It turned out that everybody else fished grass first thing, and I ended up catching three fish in about a 50-yard stretch that had lily pads and standing water willow.”
The rest of Howell’s day wasn’t near as productive, though. Just as he predicted, the bite got extremely tough after the first hour, forcing Howell to plink away at flooded brush and timber with a Yamamoto Senko and Livingston Howeller SQ for the next six hours of competition.
“I just tried to find anything else that would last after the shad spawn died,” Howell said. “I didn’t get any more bites on lily pads or grass after that first hour, and kinda followed the shad into the bushes and limbs with a Senko and a squarebill.”