Charlie Howell of Center Hill, who has been fishing since he was 10 years old, was recently awarded top-10 Team of the Year honors by the Louisiana Saltwater Series, or LASS. He received the award with his brother and fishing partner, Hunter Howell of Woodville, Miss.
The award is given out by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation to the top-10 anglers for the 2013 Louisiana Saltwater Series Redfish Series.
Charlie Howell said the redfish are fun to seek out in the competitions.
“[Redfish are] prevalent along the Gulf Coast and the inland waters and marshes [in Louisiana],” Howell said.
He’s been fishing competitively for the past four seasons, and this upcoming season will be his fifth in the Louisiana Saltwater Series Redfish Series, but he’s been fishing for the fun of it most of his life.
“I’ve been fishing for probably 49 years — since I was about 10,” Howell said. “I’ve been going to the area of Louisiana saltwater fishing for about 40 years. My dad used to take us down there and take us fishing, and then we started fishing in the area ourselves.”
Though Howell isn’t retired, he finds time to fish on the weekends and holidays. Howell works as facilities director for the College Church of Christ in Searcy and as an Arkansas certified home inspector.
The competition season starts back up in March, and he looks forward to the competition, he said.
“One thing I really enjoy in these competitions is my age,” he said. “Here, you’ve got a 58-year-old guy competing, and most of the people within the competition are in their 20s. Those kids can’t stand it when [my brother and I] finish in front of them.”
Competing in fishing tournaments has allowed Howell to see a lot of the country. Howell also competes in Inshore Fishing Association redfish tournaments, making for a combined total of roughly 12 tournaments per year.
Howell said IFA tournaments are held in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and South Carolina.
“I enjoy fishing all of these different locations that we fish along the area,” he said, “also, the adrenaline rush you get when the competition starts — when you catch a fish that you think is probably going to do well in the tournament.”
Each competition usually makes for an eight-hour day on the water, Howell said.
“We’re only allowed to bring in two fish per boat to weigh-in,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a difference of one-hundredth of an ounce on who wins the tournament. In these tournaments, we compete to get the two best-sized redfish that the tournament allows.”
The competition in the tournaments is fierce, Howell said.
“Sometimes, there may be anywhere from 55 to 100 boats in a tournament.”
The rules dictate that the redfish competitors catch fish up to 27 inches long and bring them in to be judged.
“You have to bring in a redfish no longer than 27 inches. If it’s 27 and a fingernail, it’s disqualified,” Howell said. “They weigh the fish, and then you compete for the highest weight with a fish of those standards. So, you want to find an area where those fish are that long and are the fattest.”
Only artificial bait is allowed in the competition, Howell said.
“We can use any apparatus that we want as long as it’s artificial,” he said. “We can’t use worms, crickets, minnows or shrimp, but you can use scented bait.”
Howell’s first tournament for the 2014 season will be March 8 at Boudreaux’s Marina in Cocodrie, La.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.