If you could watch the final weigh-in of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic Sunday without getting a little choked up, "you ain't right."
Randy Howell, the winner of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, admittedly was an emotional wreck much of the afternoon, coming off the water and on stage.
"I was riding here [to the weigh-in] with my wife and I cried for an hour trying to get it all out," Howell told the crowd. "In 21 years of bass fishing... it's the best day I've ever had fishing."
In what can only be described as an amazing come-from-behind victory, Howell, from Springville, Ala., became one of the few anglers to ever win the prestigious tournament on home turf. And better yet, his amazing victory on Guntersville Lake was witnessed by hundreds of spectators. That's because Howell's surprise hotspot was at a bridge crossing on Hwy. 79, just outside of the city of Guntersville. Hundreds of spectators lined the busy highway whooping and cheering every time Howell brought another monster bass in the boat
Randy Howell had 38 lbs. 6 oz. and was in 11th place going into the final day. Most observers thought one of the Top 2 anglers at that point - Edwin Evers and Randall Tharp - was likely to take the win. However both came up short as Howell put on a clinic, catching a Day 3 bag of bass weighing 29 lbs. 2 ozs., making up a nine-pound deficit to win by one pound over Paul Mueller.
Mueller also came from behind, making his way to 2nd place by catching almost 57 pounds of bass in the last two days.
Howell, who wins $300,000 cash and will likely garner some healthy endorsement deals, said it was a spur of the moment decision that led him to the winning hotspot.
"When we took off this morning I had already told the camera crew where I was going, but about a mile after takeoff this voice in my head said, 'You want to be good or you want to be great.' I turned the boat and headed back into Spring Creek where I ended yesterday. When I did that I had this rush of peace come over me and it was like I knew it was going to happen."
Howell said it was the Lord that led him to the spot.
"I had hundreds of people lined up on the road, cheering me on," he said. "Everything came together for a magical day.
However it wasn't quite as magical for others as one after another, anglers came to the stage with stories of "the big one that got away."
David Kilgore, who ended in 8th place, said, "I had a nine-pounder literally 5 feet from my hand when he came off."
Lots of anglers also talked about fishing red/orange colored baits... Strike King's Red Eye Shad got talked about a lot.
It wasn't a Strike King lure, but a lesser known Livingston crank bait that Howell credits however. He said the lure actually isn't even in production yet.
"I wanted something sort of red and I dumped out a box of baits Livingston gave me to try out," said Howell. "There was one bright orange crawfish-colored that I didn't even know I had. I tied it on and they ate that thing up."
At one point during the trophy presentation Howell told MC Dave Mercer, "I can't believe I've quit crying. That's good. Maybe I can talk."
And then Howell's family joined him on stage and the water works began anew.
Howell related a story about one of his sons who had been asked to write down a special prayer request last October.
"He wrote, "For my Dad to win the Classic," related Howell. "I taped it on my mirror in my house and I looked at it every day, every day."
Pausing to try and compose himself, Howell shared Psalm 37:4 with the Birmingham crowd saying, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
The 40-year-old Howell fished his first BASS event in 1993. Today's win takes him over the $1.5 million mark in career earnings.CLICK HERE
for a photo gallery from the Bassmaster Classicby Richard Simms