An exclusive interview with bass pro Bill Lowen where he talks about his career, tournament tactics, and dealing with tough economic times. An HD Video.
Glenn: Hi I'm Glenn May, and with me today is pro elite angler, Bill Lowen. Bill, it's good to have you on board today.
Bill Lowen: Thanks for having me.
Glenn: Hey, Bill, can you tell me a little bit about how you got started in your career, and how you progressed to where you are today?
Bill: It's been a long road, that's for sure. I started probably like every one of us did here, fishing local events, jackpot tournaments, Wednesday night deals, things like that. And I just naturally progressed into the Red Man's, EverStarts, the opens, trying to qualify for one of the tours.
Glenn: And what was the one defining moment, where you decided I want to become a pro?
Bill: I think I've had that dream my whole life. Probably like I said, like pretty much everybody. And I got to a point in my career where I kind of felt like I was stalled out, like if I didn't get some good help or something didn't happen, then I couldn't go any further in my career. Some things happened, and things work in mysterious ways, and I'm here where I'm at today.
Glenn: Now, fishing at this level, strategy has to be a real important part to your success. What is your strategy going into the tournaments? Do they change from tournament to tournament? Or, you kind of start with the base level and then adapt from there? What is your approach?
Bill: Every tournament is different. Every body of water different. My first year on tour, for example, I told myself I'm going to go there. I'm going to fish my game, and fish my style. If I can't survive doing that, then I don't need to be here anyway, because I know in my heart that if I couldn't fish the way I like to fish, then I wasn't going to be able to survive.
And in my first year I finished 26th, made the Classic my first year. My second year on tour I didn't fish my game. I started trying different things, maybe fishing the doc talk, or things like that. And I didn't stick to my game. My first year I'd make 50 mile runs to make 10 casts to one piece of wood.
And in my second year I caught myself not doing that, not taking those chances, and I finished 50th--decent, but not--missed the Classic by a little bit. So I told my wife, "You know what? We're going back to Bill's way of fishing. We're going back to the shallow, muddy water up the river." Just put yourself in your comfort zone, and I've had my best year, last season, you know, I finished 11th, and to me that's a heck of a year.
Glenn: Now, are you going to follow that same approach for this season, or are you going to make some changes?
Bill: I may throw a little bit of different things in there, but for the most part, no I'm not. It's worked so far, so why change it, you know what I mean? If it isn’t broke, don't fix it. You fish a lot better when you're in your comfort zone, because you can make decisions based on past experiences. And so many tournaments, and so many events are won in that last split second decision, where you're not in your comfort zone it's hard to make that decision.
Glenn: Now if you have a bad day on the water, or you even have a bad tournament, how do you keep your focus and get right back into the game?
Bill: That's really hard, and everybody deals with that in their own way. But you're going to have good ones and you're going to have bad ones. There's really no formula for getting your head back in the game. You're going to have bad ones, and you're going to have to live with it.
Glenn: What works for you?
Bill: I just sweep it under the rug, and go to the next one. If you get . . .
Glenn: Shake it off, rub some dirt in it and go on.
Bill: Pour some salt in the wound, or whatever. If you get too caught up worrying about that, then it just spirals downhill all year long.
Glenn: Now, have you ever won a tournament or done really well in a tournament where you didn't feel you were quite on top of your game?
Bill: Yeah, and I think that comes from just lack of experience at this level. I've got countless hours on the water, and lots of experience in different situations. Let's just use Old Hickory last year for instance, when I finished second. I just made a bad decision on the third day that cost me the tournament. I didn't do anything wrong. I just paid one small little critical error that cost me the event.
Glenn: I want to ask you a little bit about just being at the pro level, and touring so much around the country. You're with all these top pros, and more often than your family it seems. And these guys sort of become your family, kind of a second hand family, and you guys get along great. I've seen the great camaraderie that you all have. Just inevitably, here come the jokes pretty soon. You start playing practical jokes on each other, and whatnot. Can you tell me about any that you might have been involved in that you want to share with us, or maybe some good ones that have happened recently that you saw that you'd like to share with everybody?
Bill: I've not been in on any of the jokes. There have been a few, but not any I can remember right off the top of my head. But I try to stay away from all that, you know. I don't want to pull any jokes on anybody, so they aren't trying to pull any of me.
Glenn: You don't want to get on anybody's bad side?
Bill: Exactly. I just want to keep everybody happy. And that's hard to do out here.
Glenn: I can imagine. Okay, Bill, I want to give you what I call a shameless plug moment, and you can talk about your sponsors if you want, or say high to your friends, or whatever you want to talk about. The floor is yours.
Bill: Boy, that's kind of putting you on the spot, isn't it? This year has been a very interesting year for us. With the economy being the way it is, and a lot of guys out here are losing their sponsors. This is actually going to be one of my best years for sponsors. We've picked up four or five really good deals here in the last couple of months, Featherflage is just wrapped in my truck and boat, which is tremendous with the way the economy is, it's extremely hard to find somebody to do that.
And we're running in memory of [wrap] this year for a buddy of mine that passed away. His parents are really my main title sponsor. Without them I couldn't be here. But, the companies have caught wind of what's going on with my story, and they're like, "You know what, we want to be part of this." I was going to wrap truck and boat out of my own pocket, just to do the "in memory" of wrap and give that family something back. You know what I mean?
Once people heard that was going on, they kind of jumped on board. We picked up Featherflage, Buck Knives signed on, which is a really cool deal. I've got some deals going with Xtreme Glove and Rod Guard, things like that. So, we've got a lot of cool stuff going on. And like you said before, I got a lot of people pulling for me. This is a river deal, so naturally I'm picked as one of the good shallow-water fisherman. So, there's a little bit of pressure on me this week. I got a lot of friends, and a lot of fans, that I just have to say thanks to for all their support over the years. And I hope I don't let anybody down.
Glenn: Oh, I'm sure you won't. You did mention a little bit about the economy. BASS is pulling back on some of the tournaments they're doing, and a lot of the companies are pulling back on their sponsors. What are you doing to handle the economic times today?
Bill: It's really hard to answer that question, because at this time and day with the way things are it's hard to get anything. In the past you may have been able to get a company to pick up a huge amount of your expenses, $20,000 to $50,000. Now we're having to $300 to $600 a month per companies to death just to make ends meet, which is really hard to do.
But like I said before, things really worked out well for me this year. I lost a couple sponsors and picked up a couple new ones. I'm really excited about IMA, a new company that I picked up for the season. You know Fred Roumbanis is affiliated with them. I think that's just going to be a really good deal, a good team to be on, that's for sure. They're an up and coming company, so we're looking to see a lot of them.
Glenn: Well, fantastic, Bill. Thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate it. You do really well out there.
Bill: We sure hope so. All right. Thanks so much.