Combining his best eight events, with a grand total of 742 points, Tyler Howell was named Angler of the Year at the final KATS event in our Classic Elite Series at Ladybird Lake in Austin, Texas this season.
We chatted with him about all things fishing, from early memories to mentorship, to get a better picture of the guy behind the title.
How long have you been fishing KATS?
I have fished KATS for the past three years. When I bought my first Pro Angler from Ryan back when he was working at the San Marcos location, I noticed a flyer for the KATS series and I was ‘hooked’ ever since.
How did you get started kayak fishing?
My kayak fishing beginnings started when I was probably 11 or 12 years old. My parents had a friend who operated a canoe/tubing outfitter in Spring Branch, Texas, on the Guadalupe River. Whenever my family would elect to go on a tubing trip I would usually opt for a kayak because it gave me the mobility and independence to fish instead.
What is one memorable experience you have from fishing?
This is a tough question. I have had a lot of memorable things happen regarding fishing and it’s hard to choose one time that really stands out. If I had to choose, the memory of the first big bass I caught is something I can vividly recall (it was only like 2 pounds, but it made my little 10 yr old world) and was an experience that helped catalyze the passion I have for fishing still. I would also say the time I placed 2nd on Ladybird in the first event of my second KATS season is definitely up there.
What is your favorite lake to fish and why?
This is going to be a two part answer:
1. Lady Bird Lake: It is home to some truly monster bass and it is a place that I really worked on my skills as a kayak angler. The Bird can be tricky and demands a versatile skill and the ability to fish under highly pressured circumstances.
2. Fayette County Reservoir: Simply put, this lake is full of solid 4 – 5lb bass and they are usually pretty willing to eat.
Do you any tips or tricks for beginners and/or other anglers?
One thing I believe that helped me a lot this year was my commitment to covering a lot of water while fishing. Some days you can find a spot that is loaded up with fish, but more often than not (especially in a tournament situation), you are going to have to cover some ground to find not only numbers of fish, but the right quality of fish too. Pick a handful of baits or techniques that you have confidence in and allow you to cover a wide range of situations, make a lot of casts, and keep an open mind.
Who comes to mind when you hear the word “mentor”?
Does YouTube count? In all seriousness, this is a hard question for me. I can be a bit stubborn and have not sought out mentorship as much as I probably should. My dad taught me some of the foundational principles of fishing and I can definitely credit him for planting the seed for me. For better or for worse, in both life and in fishing, I’ve always tried to do things myself, although as I’ve gotten older I’m realizing that this is not always the best approach. When I do seek mentorship, it is usually in a more indirect fashion. I’ll look to people who have enjoyed success, both notable and everyday, trying to see what sort of habits and character traits they employ, and from there try to apply what I’ve taken from them into my own life.
Favorite fish dish?
It’s hard to beat some delicious grilled salmon, although fried crappie also has a special place in my heart.
Beyond titles/awards, what does your involvement with KATS mean to you?
Awards and titles are great and it is cool to look back at what I have accomplished, but in truth they are not the things driving me to involve myself in KATS. For some reason I actually get a bit uncomfortable whenever I get an award, it’s a strange feeling. I mainly just enjoy KATS for the camaraderie and the competition. I’m a pretty competitive person, so seeing the fruits of your labor come to fruition during a tournament is something that is special to me.
What’s next – in life and in fishing?
Right now I am just happy to be a part of a company that allows me to pursue and live out my passion every day. Somewhere down the road I would like to return to school in order to attain my Master’s Degree, possibly in the fields of Fisheries Biology or Nutrition. As for fishing, in a general sense, I simply want to keep getting better and learn as much as I can. There are so many good fishermen in KATS that if I hope to have continued success I will need to not rest on my laurels. That being said, I hope to continue my involvement with KATS and just tournaments in general. One day I would also really like to work as a fishing guide.