Every human is born with survival instincts that are heightened and developed over time. For the professional bass angler, it's no different. While the bass pro's fishing instincts may not spell the difference between life and death, it can spell the difference between cashing a check and going home empty handed at the conclusion of a tournament.
Ohio pro Bill Lowen posted three Top 10 finishes in the 2008 Elite Series, and each time he relied upon gut instinct to put critical bass in his livewell. The decision to scrap a previously successful game plan on a moment's notice is a combination of experience and confidence. "You have to be able to change and adapt very quickly," Lowen says.
"The ability to make those changes comes from having the confidence to trust yourself and your gut feeling." Entering a tournament, Lowen doesn't plan on making gut decisions to save the day — he prefers to go in with a solid game plan. "The first thing that I do is establish a pattern.
What type of cover the fish are on, the water depth, bait, things like that. Seventy-five percent of the time I stay within that game plan. But the other 25 percent of the time is when things change, and that's when I go with my gut instinct." In order for the Ohio pro to deviate from his original game plan and follow his gut, one important factor has to be met.
The conditions must be right. "If it has been sunny for two days, and I've been catching fish on the flats next to wood, and the third morning is overcast, I know the fish will start roaming. That is the type of situation where I scrap my game plan and fish on instinct," explains Lowen. Lowen points to the final day of Elite Series competition on Old Hickory, when following his instincts earned him a second place finish.
After catching quality bass on a 10-inch worm for the first three days, he switched to a five-inch creature bait on the final day to bring in the days heaviest limit. The decision to follow an unproven pattern and fish untested waters can cause an uneasy feeling in the pit of a bass angler's stomach, but according to Lowen, it's a decision that has to be made. "
There's never an instance when I don't follow my instinct," he states. "I always give it 10 minutes. If it doesn't work, I can just go back to my original plan. I've found that for me, the strategy works 95 percent of the time.
I've been in tournaments where I was planning on making a long run and suddenly got a gut feeling that I only needed to run five miles and do something totally off the wall."
(Provided by Z3 Media)