Bless the bank beaters

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Bassmaster Marshal

I see a lot of comments on social media these days suggesting B.A.S.S. should explore the idea of banning forward-facing, real-time electronics like Garmin LiveScope, Lowrance LiveSight and the much-rumored Humminbird MEGA Live.

I disagree with that sentiment — and it’s too late anyway. That genie is out of the bottle and it’s unlikely it’ll ever be back in. If you’re a serious tournament angler committed to fishing in all types of conditions, all that’s left to do is throw yourself into the miraculous technology and learn to use it for good.

But as an old-school bank beater who still isn’t completely comfortable unless I can see what I’m casting at, I thought it was nice to see a guy like Bill Lowen win the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake.

Besides being one of the nicest family men on tour, Lowen is one of the few guys on the Elite Series who makes no bones about being hardheaded when it comes to his fishing style.

One of my favorite quotes — one I’ve used again and again — came from Lowen when he said, “I’m most comfortable when my trolling motor is kicking up mud.”

He grew up on the Ohio River where “fishing deep” meant fishing in water that was over his head.

Through the years, I’ve seen him venture out away from the shoreline a few times. But in all those situations, I’d be willing to bet it was because he eliminated every dirt-shallow possibility beforehand.

It’s nice to know a guy like that can compete at the highest level — and he’s always been competitive.

Though it was his first victory, Lowen already had three second-place finishes to his credit. He has 20 Top 10s, $1.4 million in career earnings and 10 Classic trips, not counting the one he’ll make next month.

The bulk of that massive success happened within casting distance of the shoreline — and that should be comforting to you if you’re lagging a little behind in the technological age.

I am — and there’s really no good excuse for it.

During my time as the outdoors writer for the newspaper in Columbus, Ga., I was just 40 minutes from the famed ledge fishing at Lake Eufaula, and I had the opportunity to share a boat with some of the best ledge fishermen on the planet.

We caught a ton of fish. But somehow, none of that expertise ever wore off on me. Maybe because I always felt like I was out in the middle of the ocean and my mind kept saying, “Boy, that patch of grass over on the bank sure looks good.”

If I could go back in time to those days with guys like Tom Mann and Bobby Padgett, I’d pay a little more attention to where they were fishing — and why — instead of just casting in the direction they said.

That’s not happening, so I’ll just keep gradually learning more about “video game fishing” until I’m officially one of the thousands of anglers who can see those offshore fish swimming before they ever make a cast.

In the meantime, I’ll remember that fish do, in fact, still live around the shoreline. They haven’t just boycotted the banks since I first started fishing from there when I was a kid.

If, by some chance, I forget, I’ll look to guys like Bill Lowen and his massive accomplishments to remind me.