Kenyon Hill of Norman has fished in four Bassmaster Classics and won more than $1 million in his career as a pro bass angler.
He missed making this year’s Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake and was teaching a Bassmaster University course Tuesday night at Rose State College in Midwest City.
Before the event, we shared a meal and he shared some opinions about this year’s Super Bowl of fishing.
What is your predictions on the Bassmaser Classic? Grand Lake, this time of year, will produce huge stringers if you use the Alabama Rig, but they can’t, and that is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish
I suspect it will still be a pretty deadly Classic. If the water temperatures are still in the ‘40s, I think the jerk-baiters will probably do very well. There may be some guys figure out how to catch them suspended on a swim bait.
I kind of look for Aaron Martens to have a very good Classic. The bigger ones seem to be a little tougher to catch when they are deeper and suspended and he is about good as it gets watching them on a depth finder and catching them.
What about catching bass on jigs? Jigs will be OK, but with the water temperature it would surprise me if that is a winning technique. Normally it takes 50 degrees or better for the jigs to come in. It’s a generic kind of a mark but normally 50 degrees or warmer they (bass) will start getting structure and bottom-related. Fifty degrees and lower they suspend more so with the water temperature in the upper ‘40s, I don’t look for a jig to be a huge player. It could be but I think it’s going to be that other stuff.
So you would bet on Martens to win? Martens will be tough. No one knows anymore about it (the lake) than (Jason) Christie, between him and his family. It just depends on what he can put together. There is not a slouch out there.
Does the Bassmaster Classic feel like a different tournament than any other B.A.S.S. Elite Series event? It did my first one, because I let it bother me. But after that, no, because I just ignore all the pomp and circumstance. There are a lot of people who cannot and it will wear on them.
What does having the Bassmaster Classic in Oklahoma mean for the state? It will bring more recognition to the state obviously. Grand Lake is a very good fishery. It’s introducing the world to Oklahoma, basically. It all depends on whether the Department of Tourism will try to capitalize on it. Oklahoma, as a state, has a tremendous amount to offer the outdoorsmen of all kinds. It has an incredible amount of diversity. It’s truly amazing.
If anglers had not had success catching fish in the two previous Elite Series events on Grand Lake (2007 and 2008), would the Bassmaster Classic have been held on Grand Lake? That has no bearing on it at all. On the Classic, it has to have special things. They would like to have a reasonable fishery but that’s not always the case. You have to have an arena, the facilities, a place to hold the show and the money to pay them (B.A.S.S) to come. I look for it to be very good event and hopefully it showcases Oklahoma and Tulsa very well.”
What is your favorite bass fishing lake in Oklahoma? I grew up fishing Texoma and have such great childhool memories there with my dad and my buddies, so I would have to say Texoma going away is my favorite place.
Have you been to Arbuckle Lake this year? I haven’t, although I have heard it’s really kicked on. The deal was the water temperatures got down and the (the bass) suspend, and they started bashing ‘em with that Alabama rig.
What do you think about using the Alabama rig in bass tournaments? I think it’s just another way to catch fish. I have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. It absolutely has no bearing on being hard on the fishery. At one time in the state of Alabama a legislator proposed outlawing the plastic worm because it was so deadly. If you want to do anything to protect the fishery, get rid of mapping GPS. It’s made heroes out of zeros. It takes a lot of time and effort to find stuff off the shore without that and then find it again. But now with mapping GPS, there is no place for them to hide in the whole lake.
If you really want to level the playing ground, get rid of that, and you will see a whole new batch of people start shining a whole lot more.
You have any tips for fishing with an Alabama rig? You rig it with swim baits. I use Zoom Swimmin Fluke. It doesn’t have to look real realistic. It just has to look like a minnow swimming. I use relatively light jig heads. And then it is about depth control and learning how to keep it down and whatever depth you are seeing on the depth finder. It takes awhile to learn to cast it. It’s like throwing a shoe out there. So you throw it sidearm and if you feather the whole cast, and really feather it good before it comes down, you will keep it all lined out. And you just got to be conscious about counting it down, letting it go to the bottom and keeping it at a certain depth. It’s primarily for a suspended fish situation and when that is is when the water is below 50 degrees and in the post-spawn in the summertime. And in the fall they will get to schooling and chase some baits back in pockets and stuff. They are in shallow water but you can still catch them on Alabama rigs in those situations. You will also catch stripers and white bass and whatever is swimming in the lake. It doesn’t do well in brush piles. I’ve snagged everyone I have come close to. I don’t use a heavy grade hook. I use kind of a medium, wire hook. It allows you to get it (the rig) back. With 66-pound braid, just pull on it and you can straighten that hook out and bring it back in and rig your stuff. That’s the way to get it back. Use lots of heavy stuff and baby hooks.
Your passion outside of bass tournament fishing is duck hunting? Duck hunting and fishing. I enjoy fishing outside of tournament fishing. We are planning trips to El Salto (Mexico) this year and at least a couple of trips to Venice, La. Hopefully, I will get to do some crappie fishing this spring at Thunderbird. It’s a great crappie lake. You can catch ‘em by the bucketfuls.