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Classic’s best know St. Lawrence

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Three of the top four finishers at last weekend’s Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville in Birmingham, Ala., fished in the St. Lawrence River Showdown at Waddington this past August. Those anglers are Randy Howell, Edwin Evers, and Ott DeFoe.

Classic Champion

Despite being in 11th place and nine pounds behind the leader going into the final day, Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., emerged as the 2014 Classic Champion thanks to a five-fish limit weighing 29 pounds, 2 ounces. Howell said, “It was the best day I’ve ever had in 21 years of professional bass fishing, a day of a lifetime.” The angler lost track of how many bass he culled, but at one point he was swapping 4- to 5-pounders for even larger bass.

“I caught my first one on my second or third cast,” he said. “I caught one almost every cast or two and had a limit in the first 10 or 15 minutes. It was quick. It would have been quicker if I hadn’t had to retie every time because of the rocks.” Those rocks were a bridge causeway on Spring Creek.

Howell’s three-day catch of 15 bass weighed 67 pounds, 8 ounces and earned the angler $300,000 and the coveted title. Weighing an average of 4.5 pounds, Howell’s bass mirrored Brandon Palaniuk’s winning catch at Waddington as those bass had an average weight of 4.44 pounds.

Howell finished 44th on the St. Lawrence River this summer, but the angler qualified for the Classic by winning the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open.

Last weekend marked Howell’s 12th Classic appearance and his first victory. The Alabama angler became only the second one to win the Classic in his home state. Howell relied on crayfish imitation lures for his winning catch.

Second Place

Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., finished second at the Classic, just one pound behind the winner, and he earned $45,000 for his 66-8 total of bass.

On Day 2 of the competition, Mueller set a new one-day Classic weight record of 32 pounds, 3 ounces, so his five bass that day weighed an average of 6.4 pounds.

Mueller qualified for the Classic through B.A.S.S. Nation, and the appearance of Northeast anglers in the Classic is an uncommon occurrence, so Mueller’s accomplishments are praiseworthy.

With 15 Classic appearances and the 2003 Classic Championship, Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., is the angler who best represents the Northeast at the national level.

Third-through-Fifth Places

Third-place honors went to Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. Evers was the second-day leader, and he earned $42,500 for his Classic catch of 65-11. This angler finished 25th at the Waddington Elite Series Tournament.

Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., placed fourth with a three-day, 15-fish limit that weighed 63-6 and earned the angler $30,000. DeFoe caught an 8-pound, 4-ounce bass on Day 3 of the competition. The angler’s fourth-place finish matched his fourth-place finish at the Waddington showdown.

The fifth-place prize money of $27,500 went to Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla. Tharp was the Day One leader, and he finished with a 62-12 catch. He did not compete at Waddington.

Biggest Bass

Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., caught a 9-pound, 11-ounce largemouth on Day One of the Classic, and that fish turned out to be the largest of the tournament, earning the angler the Carhartt Big Bass Award of $1,000 plus $1,500 for wearing Carhartt clothing. Roumbanis placed 21st in the Classic and 61st at the St. Lawrence River Showdown.

Top Showdown Anglers

Brandon Palaniuk, Jonathan VanDam, Ott DeFoe, Cliff Pirch, and Aaron Martens were the top five finishers at the 2013 Waddington Showdown. Pirch did not qualify for the 2014 Classic, but the other four anglers had solid performances there. Palaniuk of Idaho placed 14th, VanDam of Michigan finished 16th, DeFoe placed 4th, and Martens finished 13th.

Fan favorite Kevin VanDam of Michigan, who placed 14th at the St. Lawrence River this summer, finished in the 26th spot at the Classic. VanDam has four Classic wins in 24 appearances.

Outdoors Calendar

March 8-9: Racquette Valley F&G Club’s Gun and Knife Show at 233 Cold Brook Drive, South Colton.

March 9: Daylight savings time begins.

March 15: Parishville Sportsman Club’s 29th Annual Rabbit Hunt (265-2922).

March 15: Northern pike and walleye seasons close until the first Saturday in May.

March 15: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.

March 16: Seasons close in Northern Zone for cottontail rabbits and varying hares.

March 28-30: Great Outdoor Expo at YMCA Fairgrounds Fitness Center.

March 30: Coyote season closes in NYS.

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