BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bassmaster Elite Series pro Randy Howell is doing his part to promote high school bass fishing in Alabama.
For the past two years, Howell has conducted speaking engagements for various high school fishing teams around the Birmingham area. “I try to keep up with what is going on and stay ahead of the game on new things happening," said Howell. "I believe the college and high school bass fishing is the biggest, fastest growing thing in our sport. I love to help and do things with teenagers that have a passion for fishing like I do.”
Last year, Howell spoke to the Thompson High School fishing team, and when he started receiving requests to speak at other schools, the B.A.S.S. pro decided to work with the Thompson fishing coach to invite other schools to the assembly. This year, Howell held his first speaking engagement Oct. 11 and attracted 25 students from Hayden and Mortimer Jordan high schools. His next assembly on Nov. 13 at the Thompson High School auditorium drew 35 students from Thompson, Oak Mountain, Pelham, Chelsea and Hoover high schools.
“These schools have pretty good administrations that are real supportive of the fishing teams and are real good about doing stuff with the kids,” Howell said.
Howell covers a variety of topics during the assemblies, which are supposed to last an hour but usually carry on for a couple of hours in the auditorium and at his truck in the parking lot. “I start out talking about the importance of school, which they hear about from everybody,” said Howell, “but when a pro angler says school is a big part of becoming a pro it makes them think about it more.”
The Alabama pro stresses the importance of learning communication and computer skills and taking classes that cover business and marketing subjects. He also emphasizes going to college and fishing on a collegiate team. “That is what I am pushing really hard. If you want a career in fishing, you have to go through the college fishing ranks to get there,” he said.
Howell spends the next segment of his assembly talking about tournament preparations such as organizing gear, changing out hooks on lures and learning how to tie various knots. Then Howell talks about the importance of catching five keepers every day of a tournament and the techniques he relies on to bag a limit. His assemblies conclude with a question-and-answer session.
The attentiveness of the kids at the assemblies and their eagerness to learn more about the sport has impressed Howell. “Most high school kids that are already into hunting and fishing have a hard time focusing and listening more than five minutes, but it was amazing how intent they were on every word I was saying,” said Howell. “They were really inquisitive and asked a lot of questions.”