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Updated: Mar 5, 2021

BO KNOWS FISHING, DO YOU KNOW YOUR CLASSIC HISTORY? Toledo Bend and Villas "Bo" Dowden have had a love affair for over 50 years. The lake has been inspiration for both his vocation selling boats, motors and real estate, and his avocation as a fisherman. Toledo Bend was impounded in 1967 and not long after Bo started “Bo’s Marine” in his hometown of Natchitoches, LA - a business he maintained for 17 years. Bo had been a fisherman for most of his life and competitive bass fishing was a logical extension of his passion. Within 2 years of establishing his boat business, Bo leveraged his local experience and began fishing as a pro in the fast growing B.A.S.S series. His career as a tournament angler extended from 1974 until 2002. During this time Bo qualified for 14 Bassmaster

photo courtesy of B.A.S.S

Classics, and had 99 in-the-money finishes in 241 BASS tournaments, but it was the 10th Anniversary edition in 1980 that brought him his lasting fame. For the 10th Anniversary, Ray Scott had decided this was the perfect time to extend the Classic to a northern venue, choosing the 1000 Islands St. Lawrence River NY as the site. Veterans like Rick Clunn and Bobby Murray were favorites having at the time three of the nine classic wins, but Bo also was considered a strong contender having finished second and third in previous Classics. Going into the final day, Bo found himself in the lead, but the resulting pressure was taking its toll. As the time ticked away, Bo was one fish short of a limit. It was one of those "mean days" on the St Lawrence, and Bo had spent much of the day wrestling his Ranger 225V across the river through some of the worst waves he had ever encountered. He began to see his chances for a win sinking in the whitecaps.

photo courtesy of B.A.S.S

Suddenly, his fears turned to excitement as his Lew’s Speed Stick doubled over. The drag was giving line. “Please don’t be a pike,” he was heard to say- and pray. He played the fish to the boat and reached down thumbing a 6-pound, 6-ounce largemouth. He wouldn't find out until the weigh-in that that fish gave him a 10-pound lead over runner-up Roland Martin. The rest is history. Bo has been retired from tournament fishing for many years. After fishing, he turned his attention to building a real estate company selling properties all around the Toledo Bend Reservoir. He rarely fishes except for the occasional fun tournament. "I'll be honest with you, I miss it terribly," Dowden has admitted, remembering events like that Classic victory parade through downtown Alexandria Bay.


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