There’s a star professional athlete residing in Franklin County …but he may be off the radar of serious sports fans.

Bill Lowen, 46, rose to the forefront of the Bassmaster Elite fishing series last week when he closed out his first-ever title at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama in front of family and friends and a national audience on Fox Sports.
“It puts the icing on the cake and kind of solidifies your career as a professional angler,” says the former flooring contractor who joined the B.E.S. circuit 14 years ago.

The event had its share of storylines.

The week prior, fierce storms near the Tennessee-Alabama border forced the Tennessee Valley Authority to move high volumes of water from the Tennessee River into the Pickwick Lake reservoir. Lowen played it to his advantage to earn a first-place tie (each with 62 lb., 10 oz.) after Day 3 with Chad Pipkens of Michigan. Then he made the proper adjustments.
“By that (fourth) day, the water levels were actually falling …overnight, the river dropped about two feet, which is a tremendous amount when you’re talking about bass fishing,” he explains. “Alot of the cover I was catching fish out of was starting to get dry. Covering that had four to five feet of water on it now only had about two feet.

“I knew in the first 40 minutes that the same area probably wasn’t going to work,” he continues. “I ran the country around in the same pattern, but I concentrated on areas that had deeper cover; every bit of area where I caught fish that final day still had four to five feet of water on it.”
This included the coup he pulled in early that morning of March 23, an 8 pound-5 ounce largemouth near the shoreline.

“That one did it for me,” Lowen emphasizes. “Without that fish, I wouldn’t have won. Looking back at other guys who’ve won, it always seems that one big bite is the difference maker, and I was bless-ed to get it this week.”
His weigh-in for Day 4 was 20-11, putting him over 20 pounds three of the four days. Runner-up Brock Mosley of Mississippi trailed by 2 lbs., 10 oz. For his efforts and 83-5 haul, he pocketed a cool $102,000.

Although his career winnings exceed $1.5 million with over 150 top-10 finishes to his name, the 11-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier had never hoisted the winning trophy. He was runner-up in 2008 at Old Hickory Lake in Henderson-ville, Tennessee, second at Clear Lake in Lakeport, California in 2010 and again at Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay in 2015.

“I’ve had opportunities but wasn’t able to capitalize on them,” he says. “Over the years, it starts eating on you – you start hearing a little voice in your head, ‘is it ever gonna’ happen?’ There are guys who go their whole career and never get a win.”

Lowen credits his youth spent on the Ohio River by Addyston, Ohio for the in-tournament strategy that put him over the top.

“I was basically raised on the Ohio, so I grew up fishing in those types of (challenging) conditions,” he offers. “I didn’t let myself get spun out. I knew what I needed to do to keep myself in it and have a shot to win. Fortunately, every move I made was the right move and it all worked out.”

Lowen’s father was a tournament fisherman as well.

“Growing up, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he recalls. “He got that fire lit in me and when he gave it up, I kind of took over in his shoes.”
Lowen visited Brookville Lake frequently in those days, the beauty of the area eventually enticing him and his family to find a home just south of Blooming Grove.

“Everything our family does typically revolves around the outdoors,” says the fisherman of wife Jennifer, son (what else?) Fischer and daughter Nevaeh. “It’s awesome to see their love for fishing and hunting as well.”

Lowen still gets out on the local reservoir for some fishing and waterfowl hunting and will occasionally wade the Whitewater River for smallmouth. That is when time permits, as he is required to enter 10 events over the course of the season; he was already traveling to his next destination, a tourney April 8-11 on the Sabine River in Orange, Texas.

“We were just talking about that, how my daughter is 12 and has been to just about every state,” he adds. “For the most part, we’ve traveled all over the country. I don’t truly have that one favorite spot; I just enjoy all of them, being out in nature.”

He had been to Pickwick several times but says he had never faced the difficult conditions like the latest tourney brought. Generally, Lowen calls this the best time of the year to fish despite cooler temperatures.

“Basically, it’s what we call pre-spawn when fish in the lake want to come to shore and spawn,” he explains.

The circuit is akin to NASCAR, in that “it would just about be impossible to do without sponsors,” as Lowen relates.

To that end, he cruises the waters in Xpress boats and touts the official gear that leads to his success.

Using a 7-foot-6 Lews Custom Lite Speed Stick flipping rod with a Lews Lite reel (7.5:1 gear ratio) and 20-pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, Lowen got several bites using a 3/8-ounce Lure Parts Online Black/Blue Signature Series flipping jig. He also utilized a soft plastic Strike King Rodent to flip through reeds, Texas-rigging it with a 5/16-oz. Reins Tungsten Weight and 5/0 Hayabusa Straight Shank flipping hook.

Lowen sees himself competing as long as he can, filling up his life well for another 25-30 years if possible.

For anyone wishing to make it professionally, Lowen advises to “keep chasing it.”

“If that’s your dream, don’t let anybody say you can’t live your dream,” he adds. “If it’s something you’re interested in, surround yourself with good mentors who can teach you and pass it on.
“It was my dream when I was a little kid and here we are today.