An interview with tournament angler and guide Tom Lowery

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How long have you been fishing, and how did you get started?

I’m 43 years old now, and my dad began taking me trout fishing at Miramar, and the Sierra Mountains when I was 7 years old. When I was 13 we decided to give bass fishing a try, and started at Lower Otay. We used shiners at first, and had success. I began to look for more of a challenge, and switched to a texas rigged plastic worm (a Manns Purple Jelly Worm to be exact) and I remember catching a 3 pounder, from there on I was hooked on bass fishing. My first boat was an aluminum Valco with no outboard, just oars to get me around on the lake. My dad would drive a buddy and I to Otay with the boat in the back of his truck. I’m on my 6th boat now, and I’m blessed to be able to represent Anglers Marine with a beautiful 2014 Triton 20XS with a Mercury ProXS outboard.

What is your go-to technique when nothing else seems to work, and why do you have so much confidence in it?

For me, that’s the carolina rig. It is such a versatile technique. It works year-round, in depths from 1 to 50 feet or more, when it is windy, flat calm, in brush, on rocks, it just doesn’t matter. I have caught bass on a carolina rig in every situation you could think of, and caught more bass on it than any other technique.

I remember a situation where I was fishing with Alan Clowers and we were catching suspended bass over 40 feet of water on a carolina rigged reaper. They were eating it on the sink, and it was “every cast” for 45 minutes. That’s a bite I will never forget. It also tends to catch bigger bass too. So for those reasons, and more, I always have at least one rod on the deck with a carolina rig ready to go.

What do you consider to be your fishing strengths, and why?

  1. Fishing Deep Structure – When I first started it was all about “feeling” what my lure was doing. I have spent countless hours fishing on the bottom and it is what I do best. Feeling what is going on down there and presenting my bait correctly has often lead me to success. When the fish are deep and eating on the bottom, I know I can catch them. Over the years I have learned a few little tricks that continue to work over and over.
  2. Decision Making – That sounds funny I guess, but I fish tournaments and when the clock is ticking you must make critical decisions on the water. The best anglers choose right and they increase their chance at winning. There were countless tournaments where I made a quick decision that paid off big. This skill is really important and I think I do it well.
  3. Using my Lowrance Electronics – I fish schooling bass when they’re breaking on top, but the fish I want to catch are often below the school or around the area. I can catch those fish using my graph. Feeding bass that are suspended or on the bottom look a certain way on the screen. It is a skill that only comes from experience. The guys I fish against do this well too.
  4. Teaching – When I started my guide business I quickly found out that people wanted to learn just as much as catch fish. I offer fishing lessons and do a great deal of teaching when I am on the water with clients. I find this part of my “job” very rewarding and I am often complimented on that aspect at the end of a guide trip.

What do you consider your biggest angling achievement?

One of my goals is to win a boat (in a fishing tournament), and I have been close to pulling that off twice. I finished 2nd at the WON Bass Tri-States Championship at Lake Mead in 2002, and 2nd at the National Bass West Classic at Lake Havasu in 2012. I was less than 1/2 a pound from winning both of those events. I also take pride in being able to represent my bass club in the San Diego Bass Council Tournament of Champions.

What do you do for fun when you’re not fishing?

These days, it’s all about having fun with the family; playing with my kids, riding bikes, going to the movies, sports, chasing bugs in the yard – whatever they’re into, I’m game for. I only have time for one sport, so when I am not with my family I’m fishing. I also enjoy working on my house, and I wouldn’t mind getting back out on the golf course some day.

What fishing related goals do you have that you’ve not yet achieved?

I would love to win the US Open. I fished it for the first time the year that John Kerr (of Ramona) won it, and have fished it anothre 4 times since. I’ll give it another go in 2014. It would also mean a lot to me to win the El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Open. I would also like to catch a “teen” bass (13 pounds or more). And finally, I would like to be able to fish a complete season of pro/am tournaments, I plan to give that a shot in 2015.

Are there any other anglers that you credit for helping you excel as an angler?

Dennis Kolender has helped me a ton. He is one of the most versatile anglers that I know, and he likes to fish “outside the box.” I have known him since I was 16 years old, and he has always taught me something new every time we fish together, even to this day. 

I also credit Mike Folkestad with making an impact on me. I once drew Mike in a pro/am tournament at Lake Mead and one of his answers to my questions always stuck with me, he said, “I fish where they live.” That comment helps me make decisions on the water, and keeps me focused to this day. 

What do you enjoy most about fishing?

You never know what the day will bring. Keep casting!

 

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