For veteran Elite Series angler Bill Lowen the 2020 St. Lawrence River tournament is like starting over. He has fished here many times, but he typically focuses on the Canadian side of the river near Waddington. Due to COVID restrictions Canadian waters are off limits this year.
Despite those limitations Lowen sits in 36th place after two days. He has 7 pounds so far today, moving him up a few spots.
Lowen is known as a guy who thrives in tough grinder tournaments, where 12 pounds is a big bag.
“I hate these slugfests where guys are catching 27 pounds,” he said. “I grew up fishing the Ohio River, where 12 pounds would win any tournament. In fact 12 pounds was a slugfest there. In the summer it was 8 pounds.”
When we get in these giant slugfests and guys are catching 5 or 6 pounders, I seem to be catching 3 pounders.”
“I don’t know how to get over that hump. Or maybe I just need to accept who I am. I’m a shallow water guy. That’s where my confidence is.”
This week Lowen tested the big waters of Lake Ontario, with this reporter in the passenger seat. “Being out here makes me feel like I’m at the bottom of a garbage can,” he said. When the fish wouldn't cooperate Lowen began insulting them. "I hope you drown," he told one.
True to form, Lowen found a rocky Lake Ontario point and bagged 18 pounds in 2 feet of water.
“I feel blessed to make the cut at this one,” he said, “survive, and move on to Lake Champlain.”