Matt Herren and Bill Lowen both said having a confidant on the Bassmaster Elite Series is priceless.
Both men travel with their families as they motor across North America from tournament to tournament, so they have company at their campsites. But they’re not talking bass fishing strategy with their wives or children, and that’s where Herren helps Lowen, and vice versa.
These two Elite Series pros share information they learn in practice and are completely honest about their findings, which benefits them both. They discuss colors and baits; water clarity and water depth. The most subtle things can make a difference, and what better way to figure out what’s working than having another set of eyes on the water?
This friendship goes much deeper than Xs and Os, however. Herren and Lowen celebrate together in good times, and offer words of encouragement when fishing is tough. They genuinely like one another and it shows. It’s the type of relationship most pro anglers seek, but not all find.
“Billy and I spend so much time together, this is like talking about my wife,” said Herren, who hails from Ashville, Ala. “It means a lot to have someone you can trust. After all these years competing together, when I tell you we share information, I mean we share it. We hardly ever see one another during the course of a day on the water, but there’s always the trust that he’s got my back.”
“It is like marriage,” said Lowen, who calls Brookville, Ind., home. “I always compare it to that. You have to be able to trust someone you work with. And I trust Matt.”
Bassmaster.com asked this pair of Elites how they got to be such good friends and bass fishing “bros.”
When did you guys start hanging out together?
Herren: We used to see one another camping, but I think we first struck up a good conversation at a show. It might have been a Skeeter owners thing. We hit if off pretty quick once we got to talking.
Lowen: We both camp with our families on the road, and we started talking. It seems like you gravitate toward people you work well with. It just sort of naturally happens. You develop trust and it happens over time; time with each other; time on the water. You have to have that guy you can fall back on.
What do you admire most about one another?
Herren: His style, really. He just is really calm and down to earth. He really fishes within himself. He’s laid back and just a really good person. We’re like Mutt and Jeff. I’m always wired for sound and bouncing off walls. You put the boat in, and Bill’s just happy to fish right around the ramp. I’ve got to run 700 miles away from there. Opposites attract.
Lowen: Just everything. It’s like having another brother. And not just with Matt, but with his wife Candy and his boys. They’re great people. That’s why I compare it to a marriage. It’s like a big family.
If there’s one thing you’d change about your buddy, what would that be?
Herren: He can be nicer to me. He’s always busting my chops! We just pick at each other. We’re that tight; pulling each other’s strings and jawing with each other. Nah, I wouldn’t change a thing about that.
Lowen: My biggest chore with him is settling him down. He stresses out about a lot of things. It’s like Chicken Little and "the sky is falling" sometimes. I tell him, "Let’s only worry about things we can control."
What’s it like to have someone on tour you can trust as much as you trust one another with information?
Herren: Bill is really good at dissecting things. He can tune in to a pattern within a pattern. But you know that old saying about keeping things simple? Billy’s really simple in a good way. He doesn’t let things get to him, and that helps me too.
Lowen: Let’s face it. When you work with someone, you take two and a half or three days of practice and you turn it into five and a half or six days of practice. You can’t look at everything. Fishing is so specific at times, things can get confusing. If you can help figure things out for someone, or they can help you figure things out, that’s huge. You can’t put a price on that.
Tell me something about your bro that other people around bass fishing don’t know.
Herren: When Bill’s not fishing, he’s shooting something. He loves to deer hunt. He loves to duck hunt. He’s really passionate about the outdoors, and it’s not just about tournament fishing. He’s an unbelievable family guy too. He’s everything good about the sport.
Lowen: Matt is so passionate about the sport, things happen on the water that push him over the edge. The other side of that is he’s loyal. He wears his heart on his sleeve.
What have you learned from one another? Does one thing stand out more than another?
Herren: He’s one of the best finesse power fisherman I’ve ever known. He is really good about catching fish in a crowd; pressure fishing. He’s unbelievable about that.
Lowen: Matt’s all about big jigs and big plugs. I’m more about finesse power fishing. He tells me, "Look dude, you can catch a lot bigger big fish if you just use a little bit bigger bait." Denny Brauer used to tell me that all the time. To hear Matt say it now, it’s reassures me that I probably should start using some bigger stuff sometimes. And I do.
What’s the defining moment in your friendship?
Herren: There was one morning at Toledo Bend when I was really struggling. I couldn’t figure it out. Billy had an area where they were tearing it up pretty good in the morning. He said, "Just come in here with me. I’m fishing one side, you can fish the other. I haven’t been over there, but there’s probably fish over there." I went in and caught 19 pounds.
Lowen: It’s like that relationship I keep talking about. I’m not sure there was one particular thing. It was a gradual progression where you just know everything is right. He grew on me. And now I can’t get rid of him.