By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Randy Haynes' best season on the FLW Tour will be his last – at least for the time being.
Haynes, the ledge-fishing ace from Mississippi who finished a career-best 13th in the Tour Angler of the Year race in 2018, has decided to step away from top-level competition to focus more time on his family and his flooring business. Last season was great from a points perspective, as he finished among the top 30 four times in seven regular-season outings, but wasn't so hot from a financial standpoint – the biggest checks he collected (three of them) were for $12,000.
"I gave it five years and I'm ready to turn the page," said Haynes, who won the Tour stop at Lake Eufaula during his rookie campaign in 2013. "I've got kids who are 8 and 9 years old and they need their daddy home and there's several other things that factor into it. The first couple years I made a pretty good living and it wasn't putting the wear and tear on my body like floor work does, so I pursued it.
"The last couple years it's been pretty much a break-even deal because I haven't had the wins. I'm not real strong on the sponsor side – even though the ones I had always did a great job for me, I had to pay the big bills on the tournament side. With entry fees up $500 a tournament this year and going out there trying to make a $10,000 check, it was just hard to see it."
Pull-Out Wasn't Primary
What BassFans will most remember about Haynes' 2018 campaign isn't the string of strong finishes, but rather his withdrawal from the Kentucky Lake derby (which he led after the first two days) due to a dispute with eventual winner Jason Lambert over the rights to fish a ledge hot spot that both had exploited during the tournament. The move was unprecedented in tour-level competition and he later expressed regret for it in a Facebook post.
"That's the way the sport's changed and it's just how it is now," he said. "I think you're going to see a lot of it this year with the (MLF Bass Pro Tour) because they like showing that stuff. People will get a better view of the soap opera."
He said that incident wasn't a consideration in his decision not to return. He didn't want to be away from home for long periods with daughter Audrey and son Russell at the ages they are and with wife Cyndi having recently begun a career as a nurse practitioner. Plus, there's been an uptick in the housing market in his area, which has led to an increase in the demand for flooring.
Just like in fishing, his business is a one-man operation.
"I really have to pay attention to detail and if (a customer) needs something, I have to drop everything and do it for them," he said. "They don't know the word 'no,' and I understand that and I don't like telling them no.
"For this to be successful, I have to be around and I've got to have my finger on everything. A lot of guys on the FLW Tour are fortunate that they have businesses that they can leave and go fish, but mine really isn't like that."
Will Wish He was There
It won't be an easy time for Haynes when the 2019 Tour season gets under way next week at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.
"I love it, I know I'm going to miss it and it's going to about kill me," he said. "I've been watching how much rain they're getting down there and treating it like I'm going, even though I'm not. It's about like a drug – you get a little bit and you just want more.
"I've got some close friends there and one of the things I've always looked forward to was seeing everybody. I'll probably call a couple guys during practice to see how they're doing, just out of curiosity."
He said he might return to Tour-level competition at some point, but it'll likely be after his children have become adults.
"They had input on this decision, too, and they said they wanted me to stay home. It didn't take them but a second to come up with that answer.
"I might sneak back in there before it's all over with, but right now I've got a lot of fun-fishing I'm looking forward to."