Opens profile: Downey exceeds expectations

When Bob Downey of Hudson, Wis., signed on to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Central Opens, he knew it would be a tall step up in competition. He had never fished a Bassmaster Open before and was hoping he could hold his own. Did he ever.

Downey claimed a check in all four Central Opens and qualified for the 2020 Bassmaster Classic by winning the final event of the season at Grand Lake, Okla. He also qualified for the Elite Series by finishing fifth in the AOY standings.

“I did not expect to do this well,” Downey said.

While Downey was growing up in Minnesota, fishing was a family affair. He can’t remember when he began fishing because he was introduced to it at such a young age. He doesn’t recall catching his first bass at age 2. But he has a photo of himself hoisting the diminutive largemouth, which he caught on a nightcrawler.