“I was stunned and at a loss for words when I won,” said Howard, a hair stylist at Mixed Co Salon in Marietta.
Fishing is the common thread for Marietta BassMasters, a fishing club affiliated with FLW Outdoors/The Bass Federation and Bass Federation Nation. The group of local anglers participate in monthly tournaments mainly in Georgia and Alabama.
At the March 31 and April 1 competition, Howard and his team competed against 240 fishermen at Lake Lanier. Howard is only the fourth angler in Marietta BassMasters history to win an individual State Championship.
Under competition rules, each fisherman can bring in their five best spotted bass or large mouth bass each day. “The fish have to be 14 inches or longer. I brought in right at 32 pounds, 31.40 or something like that,” Howard said.
Howard said Lake Lanier is known for big spotted bass. “I caught all spotted bass. That’s what I was targeting,” he said.
Howard seized the opportunity through preparation. “(Fishing) is a little bit of luck and little bit of skill, but it’s more experience than anything else on the lake that you’re fishing and knowing what the fish do that particular time of year,” he said.
Howard practiced fishing Lake Lanier before the competition.
“I found the fish were not shallow. They were still out deep. In the springtime, the fish want to come up shallow and spawn but every time they had a chance to come up shallow we’d have another one of those cold fronts move through so the fish would move back out deep. Those were the ones I was catching, the deep ones,” he said.
Howard’s team also won first place in the team competition. “All the Georgia clubs send their top guys to compete against each other at the competition,” he said.
“If you have 30 members or over, the Georgia Bass Federations allows the club to send two six-men teams. Our club sent two six-man teams. The team that I was on came in first place as well,” he said.
Marietta BassMasters Team No. 1 amassed a total of 140.57 points over two days of competition. Their score was a 27 point victory over second place. Team No. 1 was made up of Howard, Tim Carini, Joe Eubanks, Carl Logan, Max McGee, and Brendan Smith.
The top 12 anglers from the Lanier competition advance to a three-day Southeast Divisional tournament at Lake Neely Henry in Gadsden, Ala., on June 4 to 6. Howard, Eubanks (third overall), Logan (eighth overall), Smith (ninth overall) and Mike Morris (11th overall) will represent Marietta BassMasters on the Georgia Bass Chapter Federation State team.
“We will go up against eighth states at the (divisional) competition,” Howard said.
Howard has been fishing his whole life.
“I fished with my father and grandfather. My grandfather was the biggest influence. He was retired and could take me fishing more than anyone else,” he said.
Howard’s experience and love of the sport has paid off.
“I enjoy the competition, a tournament. I enjoy visiting the different lakes,” said Howard, who fishes year-round.
“Winning the individual competition as well as the team competition was really cool. We had a good time. It was great,” Howard said.
The winner of the Southern Division championship advances to the national championship and will compete against one person from each state.
To learn more, visit mariettabassmasters.com.