Are you ready for the Classic? Pro Bass Insider (PBI) talk Classic strategy, off-season training, being a caged animal, beach bodies, and more with Pro Angler Bill Lowen, so sit back and enjoy the interview.
Hello everyone! It’s that time of the year again because when the calendar hits late February and early March anglers can’t wait for the Geico Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro to get underway. The 2016 Classic is being held on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Tulsa, Oklahoma from March 4-6. Elite Series Angler and 2016 Bassmaster Classic Competitor Bill Lowen returned to the Pro Bass Insider (PBI) Podcast to talk about his past experiences at the Classic and to preview the upcoming 2016 Classic on Grand Lake. PBI is typically an audio podcast but due to severe weather and bad cell reception between Oklahoma and New York at the time of the interview, we chose to release the interview in the form of an article as well. Be sure to look for our post 2016 Classic interview with Bill Lowen where we promise to get back to the high quality PBI is known for. We encourage you to give the audio a try and if that doesn’t work for you please enjoy the article below – we sure did!
PBI: To kick off our 2016 season of the Pro Bass Insider Podcast let’s welcome back to the show none other than Professional Elite Series Angler Bill Lowen. Bill how are you man?
Bill Lowen: I’m doing just fine how you guys doing?
PBI: We are doing well and we are really looking forward to the 2016 Classic and for the fans out there we’re doing a pre-and post-2016 Bassmaster Classic interview with Bill Lowen. We hope that sometime in about a week and a half on that Monday or Tuesday after the Classic we’re talking with the 2016 Bassmaster Classic Champion because then you will be coming on with us before every Elite Series event wouldn’t you? (Laughter)
Bill Lowen: You know what, that would be a good idea and a great way to start the year off; so yeah I’m looking forward to that.
PBI: So let’s get right into it here Bill because I think for myself, for DJ, and for everyone out there we want to know what makes the Bassmaster Classic the Super Bowl of bass fishing? Why is it so important, so stressful, and what is it about this tournament that the big names can win or like a couple years ago a relatively unknown angler like Paul Mueller can come out of nowhere and set an all-time single day record with over 32 pounds. Mueller went from 47th place to third on that record setting Saturday and then finished in second place after a solid day on Sunday. What makes this tournament the Super Bowl of bass fishing and why is this tournament so important?
Bill Lowen: Well, I think we always compare it to the Super Bowl and then call it the Super Bowl of bass fishing for the reason that everyone who fishes or that’s a competitive tournament fisherman this is where they want to be. They eventually someday want to fish the Bassmaster Classic and fulfill their dreams and if you’re a fisherman this is where you want to be. Anybody that’s anybody in the fishing world strives to get here and I think that’s what makes it the thing that everybody wants to try to go to.
PBI: Just like the Super Bowl it is the best of the best. Not to bring the Super Bowl up again but so much has changed in the 50 years of that big game, especially the media attention, so much has also changed at the Classic. For example, the product manufacturers have made the classic they’re coming out party where it use to be ICAST. Bill, do you now feel one of if not the hardest things about the Classic for a competitor is just trying to maintain focus on fishing the tournament when there is so much more going on?
Bill Lowen: Yeah it is and I always use my first Classic as an example. I couldn’t tell you anything about my very first Bassmaster Classic because it was like being on a roller coaster ride all week. After practice is over, about every hour of your day is calculated for by BASS doing something, whether it is media or whatever it may be and the whole week before you know it is gone. You can get really wrapped up in that very easily and you can get spun out or confused and not be able to actually concentrate on the event. So yeah, I feel the pain for a new guy that maybe if it’s his very first classic it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it because like you said we are at the Super Bowl of bass fishing and it’s very, very easy to get off track and get caught up in the whole thing.
PBI: Bill do you purposely try to enjoy this more than the first time which sounds like it was a blur. Do you purposely try and enjoy it more now?
Bill Lowen: You know (pause)…. I do try to enjoy it more. I mean let’s face it; it’s a great honor to be here and to be able to fish in the Bassmaster Classic. You have to take every one of these opportunities and never take them for granted but yeah I try to definitely enjoy them more then I did in my first one. I think in my very first Classic I put too much pressure on myself to do well. All I cared about was man you got to have some fish in the bag, you got to go across the stage with something and at this tournament it doesn’t matter because if you don’t win it really nothing else matters! With that mindset you can take some chances here because there’s no points involved and you can kind of take some gambles. In the last few years at the Classic I’ve gotten away from the thought that I need to catch something to go across the stage because let’s face it if you don’t win it, it doesn’t really matter.
PBI: Bill, every year at the Classic new baits come out and anglers also use prototypes for the Classic. Are you planning on using any new lures for this year and can you talk about them?
Bill Lowen: Well yeah we can talk about all that stuff. New for me this year it’s no secret, I’m a big jig fisherman and I’m a big shallow water fishermen and new for me this year is that I got partnered up with lure parts online. Lure parts online is a components company that basically if you’re a guy that’s into tinkering or building your own jigs, spinner baits, bug baits, crank baits whatever it may be lure parts online has the accessories for you to do that. You can simply call up and order your flipping jigs, order your skirts, in any colors you want, and build exactly what you want. I mean I know a lot of times, as a pro angler, you can’t get exactly what you want and for me to have the ability with lure parts online to get exactly what I want is a big plus. I’m very fortunate to be working with them this year and looking forward to a good relationship with those guys.
PBI: So Bill, let’s get into a general, not too specific, because we don’t want to put that out there – idea of what your game plan is going in here assuming you were able to get on the lake before the practice closed. Give us an idea what you thinking?
Bill Lowen: Well, you know the lakes been off limits since like January 1, so it’s been a long time. I think you always come into every event with a game plan, but I’m one of those guys that really doesn’t get too hung up on my game plan. I’m one of those guys that like to get to the lake and fish the conditions that are going on. I think a lot of times we get caught up in maybe history or things that you have done in the past on that certain body of water and I try to avoid that at all costs. I don’t (pause)…. I don’t want to get caught up fishing history. Even though I have a game plan, tomorrow’s going to be very important on figuring out what’s dirty, what’s clean, what may be warmer than another part of the lake, and things like that. I just kind of want to fish in the conditions that are currently going on and the conditions are going to change every day this week. The weather has been somewhat warm; the trees are starting to bud, and things like that. Everything seems to be riding a little ahead of schedule. We got a little front that’s going to come through Wednesday and we can’t really figure out weather it’s going to be snow or rain but after that it looks like it’s going to warm back up and get pretty stable. So hopefully all the stars will line up and everything will work out.
PBI: Bill, that was going to be our next question and you kind of touched on it a little bit with the history. Jason Christie seems like he has the most history of success on this lake, what’s your history of fishing tournaments on Grand Lake?
Bill Lowen: I was here for the last Classic that we had 2 or 3 years ago and I’ve fished two or three Elite events here. I like the way the lake fishes, it sets up well for me. This year’s Classic going to be really different, the lake is a lot dirtier than normal. Typically this time of year Grand Lake is a clear lake and this year the lake is extremely dirty, so I think it’s going to throw a curveball to a lot of guys maybe like a Jason Christie who are not used to seeing the lake in the conditions they are from the spring and the floodwaters that we had here. Me, I’m not scared of muddy water but I do not like cold muddy water. Hopefully it will warm up and things will straighten it out.
PBI: I was going to say you have to be used to that being an Ohio River fisherman, right?
Bill Lowen: Yeah absolutely, I’m not afraid of the muddy water at all, but when it’s cold and muddy that’s just a recipe for disaster.
PBI: Bill, when you said a couple of minutes ago that it sets up nicely for how you want to fish, is that due to the fact that the water is muddy or are there some other things in your mind you’re thinking of as well setting up nicely – if you can or want to elaborate.
Bill Lowen: Grand Lake is predominately what I would consider a shallow fishery. I mean it just has a lot of rock and a lot of gravelly stuff, lots of wood, and things like that. There’s always a population of fish that tend to live shallow on this lake all year long, so you have that opportunity to be able to fish the way that I like fish.
PBI: Also leading or contributing to some of those dirty waters is the rain which has led to a lot of recent flood conditions since the cut off date when you’re not allowed on the lake that you just mentioned. Have the floodwaters subsided, what’s the condition of the lake now, and is it so much different from when you practiced over a month ago?
Bill Lowen: Well the lake is (pause) – I was surprised that the lake seems to be below normal where I was figuring it may still be a little high, but it looks to me they got her down pretty good. I still believe it’s a little lower than it was last time we were here for the classic.
PBI: Alright Bill, we are going to finish up here with a couple of fun ones but on a serious note you mentioned earlier you want to walk across the stage with some big fish like everyone does at the Classic. Bill, last year you had an incredible season finishing in the top 15 of the Toyota Angler of the Year standings. Randy Howell, another great Elite Series Angler, finished 25th and has been training intensely for six weeks on a program called body beast. His wife chose the program for him because she had done a similar one called beach body. Now Bill, you finish 10 places higher than Randy did so what do you do to not only train for the Classic grind but the Elite Series grind as well? Before you answer Bill, I don’t know about you but I’ll tell you right now that the last time I had a beach body I was 27 and I’m 42 now buddy.
Bill Lowen: Oh boy. I’m going to be honest with you I’ve never ever had a beach body (Laughter)…. not through elementary school, not through high school. You know what…I don’t really think about that very much. You just got to find a woman that loves you for who you are, you know what I’m saying? (Lots of laughter) I prepare a little different each year for the Classic than a lot of guys do. I kind of take a break from fishing through the winter and take about a two-month break where I don’t pick up a fishing rod at all. I do a lot of deer hunting and a lot of waterfowl hunting. I just step away from it and what that does for me is, it gives me that burning desire to want to come back and fish again. Right now, I haven’t been fishing hardly at all. I mean, I have fished a little bit to get warmed up for the classic but right now I’m like a caged animal and I can’t wait to get back on the water and go. It just puts that drive back into it where I feel if I were to just fish all winter long that I might get into a rut or routine, and it would start to feel like I was punching a time clock and going to work. Instead, I take a break from it and right now I’m so ready to go that I just can’t wait for tomorrow morning.
PBI: That’s awesome because on a serious note that’s what I was asking. A lot of people may not think that fishermen are athletes but they’re absolutely athletes and you go through such a grind over the Elite Series season that you need a break. Athletes in the NFL, the NBA, major league baseball, and in pretty much all-professional sports take a break after their season is over. You are still getting up early to hunt and I think that’s smart because it’s keeping your body use to getting up early and you are keeping that balance between family and fishing the entire year. Now Bill, I have to talk a little bit about the song you chose to enter the arena to for the Classic. This is Pro Bass Insider and you know we do a lot of research Bill. (Laughter) Your entry song is “Confident” by Demi Lovato and I’m assuming you know the words to the song because it is an awesome choice.
Bill Lowen: Right, right.
PBI: For the listeners this is the first verse, ‘It’s time for me to take it; I’m the boss right now. Not gonna fake it now when you go down, cause this is my game and you better come to play! Earlier you said you’re a caged animal. Is this how you’re feeling coming off of your successful 2015 season?
Bill Lowen: Yeah pretty much. It’s funny you bring the Classic songs up because I let my kids choose my Classic song every year. (Laughter) If you recall last year, I don’t know if you do or not, my entry song was the frozen song and it was perfect for last year because we all froze to death. You kind of never know what I’m going to come out to at the Classic but we have fun with it and I let the kids pick it every year. That’s what my daughter picked this year and it’s the perfect song for the occasion and that’s what we went with.
PBI: Last year the song from “Frozen” was “Let it go” but this is also perfect Bill because the next line is my favorite and I have to ask you about it. Here it is, ‘I use to hold my freak back, now I’m letting go’. (Bill laughing a lot) When Bill Lowen let’s his freak out, it looks like and it sounds like _________________?
Bill Lowen: Oh, probably a hot mess! (Lots of laughter)
PBI: That’s awesome Bill. Now it is super early but we want to be the first ones to get your prediction for the amount of weight it’s going to take to win.
Bill Lowen: My prediction on the lake to win is I’m going to say… 64 ½ pounds.
PBI: That sounds right about what we were thinking, we were thinking about 63 ½ pounds. Last one and then we will let you get out here. Without naming yourself give us the four guys that finished behind you in the top five?
Bill Lowen: Let’s go with… Matt Herren, lets see… man there’re are a lot of choices but I’m going to go with Ott DeFoe, probably Kevin VanDam, and let’s do a Russ Lane.
PBI: We appreciate you coming on here Bill and we look forward to talking again with you for our post 2016 Bassmaster Classic recap on Grand Lake. Best of luck at the Classic and we will be following you, rooting for you, and I got a new favorite song now buddy, thanks!
Bill Lowen: (Laughter) Glad I could help you out with that.
PBI: Have a great tournament Bill and thanks again.
Bill Lowen: Anytime, talk to you after the Classic.
PBI: Alright, take care.