As a parent, I try to stifle myself on the dreams of our kids and not scream, “Drumming is no way to make a living. Neither is gaming nor skateboarding. And I’ll be dead before you become an environmental lawyer.’’
But chasing dreams makes life worth living.
With Illinois in its 12th year of competitive fishing in high schools, more kids dream of becoming pros. (More are working in other areas of the fishing industry, too.) I had to ask Bill Lowen before the 50th Bassmaster Classic if he would recommend somebody trying his path in life as a full-time pro angler, a move the 45-year-old from Brookville, Indiana, made 14 years ago.
He adamantly answered, “Absolutely. I am living my dream, my dream as a kid growing up. I am never going to tell anybody not to chase their dream.’’
It has worked out for Lowen, who’s the best current professional angler to never win a tournament.
“It’s hard to win one,’’ he said.
But his résumé is one of the best. He qualified for 10 Classics. His best Classic finish is fourth in 2016 on the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in Oklahoma. He has three Bassmaster seconds and 18 top-10 finishes.
He made the final cut at the Classic and finished 17th Sunday with 44 pounds, 10 ounces during three days on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. Hank Cherry led from start to finish and won with 65-5.
Before turning to professional fishing, Lowen went to college to be a conservation officer, “but that didn’t work out.’’ Then he installed flooring, “everything but ceramic tile.’’
Another curiosity is that Lowen is one of the few pros who runs an aluminum boat. He’s in his third year with Xpress Boats.
“It fits my style of fishing, shallow water all the time,’’ he said. “I like to get up there and go up there and go as shallow as I can. In a glass boat, I was doing $3,000 or $4,000 of glass repair every year. I don’t have to do any more of that.’’
On Guntersville, he used a ¾-ounce Lowen’s Signature Flipping Jig from Lurepartsonline.com with a Strike King Chunk. The trick was dying the tip orange because crayfish have much orange this time of the year. He fished docks on the main river and allowed the current to sweep the jig under the dock.
“If I could keep a flippin’ rod in my hands all the time, I would,’’ Lowen said. “I grew up with a flippin’ rod.’’
Another curiosity is his nickname of Turtle.
“My buddies said it was because I was always late,’’ Lowen said. “My wife says it’s because I stick my neck out for everybody.’’
That’s a good wife, Jennifer. They have two children, Nevaeh and Fischer. Nevaeh, 11, was the family star Sunday on the big stage, singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” before thousands ahead of the weigh-in.
It was the stuff of dreams.
Weather had sandhill cranes moving Saturday. Bill Savage tweeted, “Skein of sandhill cranes headed west over Evergreen Park,’’ with a good photo. Shortly, John Smialek emailed, “Cranes flying north over Elgin today.’’
Diving headfirst into the shoreline hump by the Shedd Aquarium is as smart as betting on Craig Kimbrel to have the most saves this season.