Randy will do us right

The 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro is history. Randy Howell is our new champion. Bass fishing couldn’t have a better one, and he couldn’t have a better family to support him.

This is a man who married his high school sweetheart over 20 years ago. They have two fine kids. They travel together. Robin home schools Laker and Oakley, and she helps with anything he needs to further his fishing career while they’re on the road. He faithfully works to support his family, on the road or not.

They’re a deeply religious family and are involved in a myriad of Christian activities. One of their projects is the Kings Home. It provides a place for mothers, children and youth who are at risk. Randy gave last year’s boat away to help King’s Home. No doubt he’ll be able to do even more now.

It’s always easy to talk the talk. Lots of people do that. Randy and Robin walk the walk. Not so many do that. We should all be proud that they’re a part of our fishing community. We’re the better for it.

You see, being the Classic champion is about more than catching fish. His prowess in that area was made pretty darn clear with his come-from-behind victory against the best competitive bass anglers that the world can produce. He has nothing left to prove in that department.

What it’s really all about is representing our sport, putting it in the best light possible. You see, to be successful, professional bass fishing doesn’t need a champion who talks up fishing to fishermen. They’re already believers.

We need a champion who’ll show all the world — including those who don’t fish and will never fish — what’s good about us. That’s best done by example. Randy’s just the man for such a task.

This column wouldn’t be complete, however, without a mention of Paul Mueller. What a performance he put on. This is a man who missed the winning weight by a pound, after a horrible first day. Something like that requires a seriously tough mental attitude.

His performance tells me that every Elite Series angler, including yours truly, should be looking over his shoulder. This group of new, and younger, guys is for real. They can fish and they can handle the pressure of big events.

This guy’s real — no panic, just cool professionalism. It’s good to see guys like that in the ranks. Strong competition is always a good thing. It makes all of us, as well as the sport in general, better.

But that’s all in the past. It’s time to look forward.

Most of us will be finishing up business stuff with our sponsors for the next couple of weeks and getting our tackle ready for the upcoming season. Yesterday doesn’t matter much now. We’re all starting from zero.

There’s an Open on Smith Lake next week and then two Elites, one on Lake Seminole and the other on the St. Johns River. Make sure you follow all the action.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website, www.chrislanefishing.com.