7 min to read
Faith, Family, Friends, and Fishing – Mark Howard
Category : BACK DECK
I want to take a few minutes to introduce myself. My name is Mark Howard and I am an FLW Co-Angler. I, like many of you, aspired to be a Bass Pro in my mid 20’s. I had set a time limit on becoming a Bass Pro and if I didn’t accomplish my goal by age 35, I would give up on my dream. As a husband and father of 3 awesome children, I decided that raising my family, being a good husband, and the mortgage were a priority, and I am very happy with my decision. Today I am a 57 year old happily married man with nearly 38 years under my belt with the love of my life. I have three successful hard working adult children who are married to awesome sons and daughter in laws. They have blessed Diane and I with nine beautiful grandchildren.
I started my venture into co angling in the summer of 2010 due to the encouragement of Greenville, Texas FLW Tour Pro Rich Dalbey, a former business partner, FLW co angler, and friend whom I had met in 2008. For my first event, I fished the final event of the 2010 FLW American Fishing Series Texas Division on Toledo Bend Lake. On day one I was sitting in 4th place and on day two I dropped to 14th place. Needless to say, I was hooked. I have now competed in a total of 31 events with FLW Outdoors as a co-angler in the American Fishing Series, EverStarts, Rayovacs and this year, the FLW Tour. I have had modest success with 1 Win and 3 top 10’s as a co angler. The experiences I’ve had have been priceless up to this point. I have learned so much from so many Pro’s in just 4 years, many of whom have become lifelong friends. I have enjoyed traveling and seeing a lot of this great Nation and its waters that I would have never ventured to without FLW Outdoors.
The most important thing I carry with me on each day or tournament day is my faith in Jesus Christ. My faith gives me the peace and patience I need to wait upon the Lord who is my provider. There are as many as 180 co anglers at each FLW Tour Event, many of whom are much younger, more skilled and more talented anglers than I. We are all fishing behind some of the most talented Professional anglers in the nation, which can also be a huge challenge. I believe at the age of 57, my biggest competitive edge is my faith, my families support, a multitude of close friends, some great sponsors, and anglers from my J C Outdoors Bass Trails who follow and support me at every event.
Here are some tips to help you live your dream.
1. Always remember that you are a guest in the Pro’s boat. Respect his boat and his requests pertaining to the boat and ALWAYS bring gas money to give your Pro at the end of the day, regardless of how the fishing went that day. He may or may not accept it but it shows your integrity when you offer.
2. Respect your Pro’s waters. I always let the Pro make the first cast to set the cast angle, and I try my best to maintain a boat length away or more from his cast. Sometimes you release late or the wind catches a cast and it drifts over on top of him. If this happens, apologize and reel it in as quickly as possible without fowling his line or the trolling motor. When you respect your Pro’s water early, many Pro’s will turn the boat or give you “carte blanche” on another area later in the day.
3. There will be days when you get schooled by your Pro and there will be days when you can do no wrong no matter where you cast. Stay humble when you are on a roll and try to encourage your Pro to keep his head in the game. No, he is not competing against you, but we have all been there and it is very frustrating for us as co anglers and more so for a Pro.
4. Listen to your inner voice and follow your gut. I do not know how many times I have had a bait or presentation run through my mind numerous times in a day and ignore it, only to come to weigh in and find out that numerous anglers made it happen on that bait or technique.
5. Try to be creative with your baits and presentations. Some days you have to follow behind your pro throwing the same bait because that is all the bass want, which is OK. But most days you will be better off picking a different bait, presentation, and part of the water column to target.
6. Decide for yourself where you want this co angling venture to take you. Are you trying to work your way to the ranks of a Professional angler or are you happy just going fishing each day with some of the most awesome and talented anglers in the world. Pick your path and treat it either as a great day on the water, or if you choose, work hard and treat it like a job because if you are going to be successful as an angler, it requires more work and dedication than any career I have known.
7. Try to make every day on the water count. Even if the fishing is tough, there are still things to learn and relationships to build on that could be a big help in the future. No one gets to the top levels of bass fishing by themselves, whether as a co angler or professional angler. People skills play a huge part in where you go in this business.
8. Now for a few fishing pointers. When the going gets tough, the tough go dragging. Dragging a Carolina rig, football jig, shaky head and even a drop shot can turn a tough day into bass fishing gold. What this allows you to do is stay in constant contact with your bait while you are most likely working a part of the water column your Pro is totally ignoring.
9. Do your research and start each day with your confidence baits or the baits known to be productive at that time on the water. Work your baits in a rotation until you find which ones seem to work best and in what areas or conditions. There will be days when that favorite lure dominates for you, but try not to get stuck in a rut. Treat each day different and try not to force feed them what they were biting on yesterday. As fish are pressured in a tournament, you have to adjust.
10. Believe in yourself and your God-given talents even if you are not yet a follower of Christ for He blessed you with those talents. Confidence plays a huge role in angling but it can be done without cockiness. Leave everything on the water every day giving your 100% and regardless of the outcome, you will know you did your best. Encourage and try to help other anglers along the way and never forget those who helped you get to where you are.
In just a few weeks I will take to the waters of Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina for the biggest tournament of my life-the Forest Wood Cup. I plan on using everything I mentioned above and then some to make it the best tournament of my career. Regardless of where I finish, I will know I competed to the best of my ability using every ounce of God-given talent I have to make my Lord, Family, Friends and Fellow Competitors Proud.
I hope I have been an encouragement to those who are still pursing the dream of being a Co-Angler, Bass Pro, or perhaps there are some who like me, let that dream go many years ago who have been reignited.
Thank You to Fishing the Back, FLW Outdoors, my sponsors and all of the anglers who have mentored me.