We've found Randy Howell and he's drawn first blood -- a 6-inch smallmouth not much longer than his white spinnerbait. Howell said he tried the open water but the wind and waves made that uninviting. "I'm just waiting for the birds to start working," Howell said. When bass chase shad to the surface, gulls congregate and dive on injured baitfish. That's a tell for anglers that bass are schooling and can be caught.
The pattern has been paying off for Howell the past two days well enough to put him in first with 32 pounds, 2 ounces. For now he's fishing weedbeds directly in front of the boat ramp at Oneida Shores Park.
Overstreet and I are kicking ourselves for making a long, jarring boat ride to where we thought he'd be, only to have to run back to where we began.
The wind is laying and Howell is moving.