Lowen’s Ohio River Experience Led To Elite Win On Pickwick

POSTED 15-Apr-2021
Unlike most of his contemporaries fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bill Lowen’s comfort zone includes fishing in high, muddy, fast-moving water.  That’s what the Yamaha Pro found during the March 20-23 tournament on Alabama’s Pickwick Lake, and it never slowed him down.
He won the event with a four-day total of 83 pounds, 5 ounces, averaging more than 20 pounds a day.
“During practice, the lake had actually been a foot below its winter pool level,” notes Lowen, 46, “but after heavy rains, the lake rose seven or eight feet.  The tournament was even postponed two days because the water was so high and moving so fast, but on the first competition morning when I saw trees that had previously been on dry land standing in several feet of dingy, off-colored water, I knew exactly how I wanted to fish.  I’ve seen the very same conditions on the Ohio River many, many times.”

Lowen grew up in the small town of Addyston, Ohio, and started fishing the river with his father about the same time he learned to walk.  His father competed in local tournaments, and Lowen remembers standing at the door crying because he couldn’t fish with his father whenever he left for an event.  By the age of 14, however, he was competing in tournaments himself on the river but struggling whenever conditions included muddy water and fast current.  One day, two older gentlemen who consistently caught bass in those conditions shared their secret with him.
“They told me that on this river, strong current pushes bass out of that current and into newly flooded shoreline cover,” remembers Lowen, “but that the fish don’t stop feeding. I went straight to those trees on Pickwick and had a bite on my first cast, but I missed it.  At the second tree I caught a four-pounder, and that gave me the confidence to keep fishing that way.”
The win at Pickwick was the Yamaha Pro’s first win in the Elite Series since he began fishing them in 2006.  He’s been runner-up several times and had numerous top 10 finishes, but he wasn’t sure he’d won this one until his last day catch had been put on the scales, and he was the final angler to weigh in.  That morning he’d caught a largemouth weighing 8-5, and it pushed him into the winner’s circle.

“If the Ohio River has taught me anything, it’s not to get discouraged when the fishing is slow,” says Lowen.  “I grew up fishing for just five bites a day for bass that might weigh a total of six pounds.  That type of fishing trained me to stay focused for the entire day, and never to get discouraged, no matter how bad the fishing had been.  Some anglers gripe at getting only 10 bites a day, but on the Ohio River it might take me two weeks to get 10 bites.”
Lowen also gives a lot of credit for his Pickwick win to now-retired tournament angler Denny Brauer, like Lowen, an expert jig fisherman.  Years ago, the former Bassmaster Classic® winner suggested that using larger jigs would attract bigger bass than the ⅛ and 3/16-ounce jigs Lowen normally used, another habit he had formed on the Ohio River.  
“I remembered that advice and started fishing slightly larger ⅜th and ½-ounce jigs last year, and while I did not get as many bites, the fish that did hit were larger,” smiles Lowen.  “I stayed with a ⅜th ounce jig at Pickwick and definitely caught larger bass.  Denny was absolutely correct, and he changed the way I fish, after all these years.”

Each time he qualifies for the third day of competition in an Elite event, the Yamaha Pro gives a B.A.S.S.® membership to some youngster in the audience.  Now that he’s using larger jigs, he may be giving away more memberships than ever before, and no one would be happier to do it.
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