I thought it would be fun to tell a little story about the years I fished the Bass'n Gal circuit. I grew up fishing farm ponds my family owned. It was something I really enjoyed doing with my dad and siblings. So, of course, when Randy and I started dating, we made many trips to the ponds to catch bass.
At that time, I was a push button reel girl. I think Randy made it his mission to turn me into a baitcaster girl. I have to say it only took about a day for me to make the switch; however, that is not to say I was perfect at it. Randy will attest to the fact that there were a few “bird nests” he had to pick out of his reels.
After we were married in 1992, we decided I would become his tournament partner. The benefit would be that whatever money was won, we could keep instead of splitting with a partner. I think he went into this little partnership thinking he would be responsible for money won or money lost. However, I have a pretty determined work ethic about me that I have always had. I wanted to contribute to the partnership as much as possible. I practiced on my casting, presentation and landing fish so that I could contribute as well. It turned out to be a really neat deal fishing together.
One great story from our years fishing tournaments together is when we won the Tarheel Team Championship on Buggs Island. I had just graduated college and was being offered jobs to teach. I was definitely going to have to accept one of the offers for a steady income to be made in these early years. But little did we know that God had other plans for us.
We ended up winning that championship and a new boat that we were able to sell that day for the amount of money I would have made in a whole year teaching! This was our sign that I was going to travel with Randy full time.
At that time in Randy’s career, full time traveling was not nearly what it is today. There were only 6 tournaments a year for him to fish, and not near as many appearances to be made in between. Around that time, the opportunity arose for me to fish the Bass'n Gal tournament circuit.
We had become friends with Jimmy and Chris Houston, who also fished the ladies’ trail. They encouraged me to fish, and Randy also pushed me to fish these tournaments. I thought it would be fun, so we dove in! We also looked at it as a way for Randy to get more on the water experience at various lakes around the country.
We have so many awesome memories from 1996-1997 when I fished these professional tournaments. One that stands out is the practice we had on Lake Sam Rayburn in Texas. At the time, he could practice with me and help me as much as possible. We both remember these three days of practice as the most unbelievable fish catching days we have ever had. It was prime time fishing in March with the water in the bushes and fish were everywhere! We caught so many fish that by the 3rd day at lunchtime, we both had to quit because our sides were bruised from catching so many fish and our hands were completely torn to shreds! I ended up doing pretty well in the tournament, but the memory of those three practice days will be one we will never forget.
Another great memory from my fishing days was the system we came up with as far as the jobs we took on when our roles were reversed. It is actually quite funny thinking back on it. Randy basically found the fish, showed me what to fish with and rigged my rods for me each night. I still cooked dinner, made my lunch and took care of my normal jobs. The only way it was different was the fact that I was fishing on tournament day and he was standing on the bank with the other men waiting, and waiting, and waiting with anxiety pretty much like all of us fishing wives do regularly. I actually think he had more anxiety about me fishing because I was using his tournament boat. I think inwardly he was just praying I would make it to weigh-in on time and nothing would be torn up on the boat!
Remember, back then there were no GPS units on the boat. So I had my memory of practice to try and find my way back to the fish. This turned out to be quite comical. He would ask me each day if I returned to the cove with the fallen tree or if I found the bank on the backside of the island. I would have to tell him I forgot how to get there or what log or tree are you talking about? I am sure it was frustrating for him, but we have had many laughs over my bad sense of direction.
I am sure you are wondering, how did you do in the tournaments? Well, I won Rookie of the Year my first year and I made our Bass'n Gal Classic both years that I fished.
We did it as a team the same way as we do it today! I think that my years spent fishing these tournaments turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made. I learned what he goes through out on the water, and he learned what I go through waiting onshore for him to come in. We are both thankful for each other and the jobs we have in this business we work as TEAM HOWELL.
Finally, remember to SMILE, it could change the world around you!