ORANGE, Texas — Bill Lowen had one mission when he came to the weigh-in stage here Thursday. It was to thank everyone who has communicated congratulations to him since his first Elite Series victory, which took place just over two weeks ago at Alabama’s Pickwick Lake.
“I knew it would be crazy if or when I ever did win,” said the 46-year-old Lowen, who has competed on the Elite Series since it began in 2006. “But I’ll be honest with you, I was overwhelmed at the support from the fans. It’s just kept coming and coming and coming. I had no idea that so many people were watching what I was doing and had my back.”
Then Lowen got overwhelmed all over again. Unbeknownst to Lowen, his duck hunting friend Clint Shipman from Byron, Ga., had made a fiberglass replica of the 8-pound, 5-ounce bass that took big bass honors for the Pickwick tournament and clinched the victory for Lowen. Shipman came from backstage with the replica, and Lowen was visibly emotional.
“Y’all are trying to make me cry again, and I ain’t going to do it,” said Lowen, before walking off stage with Shipman.
Not often does a fish mount get turned around in two weeks. And maybe never has one been personally delivered from Byron, Ga., to Orange, Texas, in one day. Jennifer, Bill’s wife, knew this was going to happen, but Bill didn’t have a clue it was in the works.
“I had no idea,” Lowen said. “I told Jennifer I wanted to get a replica done, and she said, ‘Nah, you don’t need one.’”
Shipman has become a big fan of Bill Lowen since they met “six or seven years ago” while duck hunting in Arkansas, where Shipman guides.
“Ever since I met him, I’ve been following him,” said Shipman, who also works as a taxidermist at Southern Reflections Taxidermy in Byron. “Bill is a great guy. I was watching on ‘Bassmaster LIVE’ and as soon as he caught that fish I said, if he won, I was going to do a replica.”
Shipman gave credit to his boss, Scott Hodges, for the paint job on the replica. As for the personal delivery, Shipman has a friend getting married in Lafayette, La., this weekend, which is only a couple of hours east of Orange.
And Lowen was overwhelmed – again.
“My heart is beating a hundred miles an hour,” Lowen said.