PHILADELPHIA — Results build confidence, and confidence builds results.
So says Bassmaster Classic champion Randy Howell.
“Momentum is a big factor in how well we do in tournaments,” said Howell, “and I think more people should think about that in Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing. Everybody feeds off confidence. If you put two or three bad tournaments behind somebody, they’re probably not going to go and win the next one.”
Howell helps his wife, Robin, set her Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team each event. “She’s ranked 5,099. That’s my fault.” He pauses, then laughs and says, “No, it’s the guys’ faults for not doing so well after I pick them!”
The Howells may be ranked lower than they’d like, but they’re in the 80th percentile, and they have the added advantage of being Bassmaster Elite Series insiders. Here are Randy Howell’s top picks for a Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team leading into the Delaware River, Aug. 7-10.
“All of us need to pick ourselves,” said Howell. “If we don’t, it means we don’t have confidence in ourselves. So my first pick is me.
“Bucket A is the hardest group because all of these guys are doing well and have momentum. That momentum is a big player in my picks, and it should be on any Fantasy Fishing player’s mind.
“My next pick for this bucket would be Greg Hackney. I’d almost rather pick him than me,” Howell said with a laugh. “He’s had a phenomenal year, with a win on FLW and other Top 5s and Top 10s.
“Also, he’s a great river fisherman. He won the FLW Championship in Pittsburgh in 2009 [on Three Rivers]. So I think he would be a great pick.”
We asked Howell for a dark horse pick in every bucket.
“It’s hard to even find a dark horse in A. I would say Jason Christie, but he might even end up being a white horse!
“If I have to come up with a dark horse, I’d say Randall Tharp. He’s not really a dark horse, but he’s considered a rookie on the Bassmaster Elite Series, even though he’s not a rookie to fishing.
“He’s a good river fisherman, and he did well in FLW up there. So I would go with him.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Howell picked Bill Lowen for Bucket B.
“He is a very good, experienced river fisherman, especially in fluctuating tidal fisheries,” said Howell. “The Ohio River is really tough, but he’s done well on it all his life. It’s similar to the Delaware.
“I’ve got confidence in Bill.”
Howell also recommends Ott DeFoe as a Bucket B pick.
“Ott is a really good shallow fisherman and river fisherman,” said Howell, “and he’s got good momentum.”
For a dark horse, Howell suggests Kevin VanDam.
“That’s pretty bad to say Kevin VanDam is a dark horse, but let’s do it,” said Howell. “Get him as a bargain while he’s in the B group. Plus, of course, he won the Classic in Pittsburgh,” said Howell, referring to the 2005 Bassmaster Classic held on the Three Rivers.
See Howell's Bucket C, D and E picks on the next page.