|Texas Pro Angler and The 2012 & 2016 Lady Bass
Classic Champion Cheryl Bowden
I grew up in a small rural community near Mt. Pleasant, Texas called Chapel Hill. As the youngest of six kids, I like my brothers and sisters learned to entertain myself in the outdoors. My Dad loved to fish, but the reality was he also fished as a means of taking care of the family. I always looked forward to those trips to Lake Wright Patman during the summer. I would go out in the boat with Dad to run the nets and trotlines and then get back to camp and head down to the shore to fish from the bank. On one particular trip, I was fishing with my Zebco 33 using a blue chrome crankbait when a largemouth bass jumped out of the water to attack the bait. Not really having a clue, I pulled the bait away out of reaction. The excitement and exhilaration from that moment has been long lasting!
Little did I know that fishing with a crankbait would end up being one of my favorite techniques for catching bass. When I hit the water, the first thing I am looking for is the most active fish. The ones that will hit a moving bait. I can cover a lot of water in a short amount of time. I can also cover a lot of water pitching a jig which is another of my favorite tactics. I am looking for that reaction bite once again. I also know that with these two lures, I tend to find more quality fish.
One question that comes up frequently is “How did you get started fishing tournaments?” I am competitive by nature, as I grew up playing sports. So that part is a no brainer. I, like a lot of ladies got started with joining a local club. I met some great people and learned a lot of things, but being competitive I wanted more. I fished a few events in the former WBFA as a co-angler when I had the time off and when the WBT came into existence, I was ready to jump in and fish with the big girls as a pro. Unfortunately, I had an auto accident that resulted in a totaled boat, truck and back. That delayed my plan to fish as a pro, but I did fish the last two events that year and the next two years as a co-angler. In 2008, I made the move to the pro side and have never looked back. Starting out as a co-angler is a great way to start and get a lot of experience.
One goal I have is to learn at least one new technique per year. Some I have caught onto and use on a regular basis and others are more specific to a particular condition. Some I love and some I do them because I have to and it allows me to catch fish when nothing else seems to work. You can never stop learning or improving. We often hear the phrase, “never give up”. I agree with that, but I also think a phrase for all anglers should be “never stop learning”! Those two items have been key to my success.
The biggest lesson that I have learned is to fish my style and my kind of water. That is a constant and ongoing thing I have to remind myself of each and every day on the water. The hardest part for people is finding their own style and knowing the kind of water matches their style. Those are things I have to constantly remind myself of during practice and tournaments. They have been key to the successes that I have been fortunate to experience.
I count it to be blessings to have won two Lady Bass Classic Championships; one in 2012 and a second in 2016. In 2012, on Lake Guntersville the winning technique was a frog fished on FINS Braid and a 7'0 Medium Heavy Rod. The key was casting behind the grass and working the frog over the grass and pausing just before an opening. Additionally, I had to wait longer than normal for the fish to latch on to the bait. My practice partner and I had struggled during practice to get hook sets. I had to wait and continue working the bait until the rod would not move and then set the hook. That led to over 40lbs in three days and the closest angler double digits behind.
The second win came on a very tough bit on Old Hickory Lake near Nashville. I did not catch a lot of fish, but the ones' I did catch were quality. 7 fish in three days is tough fishing and all were caught in one area! The big bass caught on day two made the difference and was caught on a whim! The baitfish were so thick the pocket looked almost black. I happened to look behind me to see what looked like a group being hearded. I cast a RC 1.5 Ghost Shad crankbait in front of that heard and the big girl ate it! That bait was my go to during the entire event!
In August 2017, I was featured along with two other ladies, in the USA Today Hunt and Fish Magazine article, "Women Find Their Niche in the Outdoors". This same article was picked up by the USA Today Newspaper and published on August 1st. A year later, Secret York and I were named to the Wildlife Enthusiast Magazine Hall of Fame for our work in starting and keeping the Lady Bass Anglers Association rolling! We of course could never do that without all of the ladies of the LBAA and their families!
May your next fish be the catch of a lifetime!