MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Kenyon Hill went trout fishing Saturday and came away with the lead in the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event presented by Busch Beer on Jordon Lake.
Hill of Norman, Okla. caught a five-bass stringer totaling 15 pounds, 6 ounces to hold the lead for the second day and go into the final with a 1-pound lead in one of the closest finals of the year. Less than three pounds separate the six anglers left.
The finalists include Harold Allen of Shelbyville, Texas in second with 14-5; Edwin Evers of Mannsville, Okla. in third with 13-10; Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky. in fourth with 13-5, Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark. in fifth with 12-14 and Brent Chapman of Shawnee, Kan. in sixth with 12-12.
The closeness of the race among the all-star cast of some of the best bass anglers is slightly ironic considering the leader credits trout fishing for his lead.
Hill has targeted spotted bass all week keying on eddies in current produced by the heavy rains that have fallen in the region for much of the last month. His lures of choice have been a Team Supreme spinnerbait and Team Supreme Rascal jig.
None of that is a big surprise. Almost to the man, each of the bass anglers in the semi-final field was using a spinnerbait or jig pitched to eddies to catch a portion of their fish.
The difference for Hill, though, was his ability to read the water and find the subtle eddies none of the other anglers was touching.
"Eddies are formed in a lot of different ways,'' Hill said. "My trout fishing has really helped in my abilities to catch fish on this river.''
Hill points to his ability to see eddies that are below the surface of Lake Jordon that none of the other anglers could see as a reason for his success. For the most part the eddies that were getting hit the hardest were those that had visible water moving on the surface of the lake.
A lot of the eddies Hill concentrated on were those most of the anglers would have been able to see if the water was clear, but because it was stained to muddy they weren't as obvious.
"I've just read enough water while trout fishing that I could see those little subtle things that told me there was something there,''' Hill said.
As a result a lot of Hill's fish came from much deeper water than the rest of the field, most of whom reported catching their fish from extreme shallow to just a few feet deep.
"Everyone knows when there is current you will always have water right next to the bank that is flowing backwards,'' Hill said. "That's part of the eddy. But there's also a seam where that slackwater meets the current, and that creates an eddy as well.
"When a fish finds that, they can stay in position with very little effort and they don't need cover. A spotted bass likes rocks, but he also likes red clay. So a lot of the fish I caught today were related only to that seam and a hard bottom.
"They were on a bottom that was as slick as the carpet in this boat.''
Regardless, if Hill wins the tournament or not his fishing lesson is worth taking note. The remaining field is so close that any one of them could serve up their own lesson on Sunday.
"This could be a one fish deal,'' Davis said. "Just one big fish by any one of these guys it changes the whole complexion. That's how close it is.''
As a matter of fact, almost all of them reported losing a big fish during the course of the day. Menendez even said he lost nine straight fish during the day, all of them spotted bass and about 3-pounds each.
"I think these guys worked the stuff fairly thoroughly today,'' Davis said. "But they were just trying to learn what was going on. They know now and tomorrow they could really wack them.
"The fishing is so good on the lake right now that anything could happen.''
The anglers spent the day rotating around a six-hole course on Lake Jordon, each getting 1 hour and 15 minutes in a hole before having to move on. The same format will carry over, but it's expected the leading anglers will be able to utilize that time more effectively during the final.
The tournament resumes on Sunday at 6 a.m. with weigh ins starting at 3:30 p.m.
The event from Montgomery will be telecast on ESPN2 in two parts. Part one airs May 31 at 10:30 a.m. (ET) and part two will air on June 7 at 10:30 a.m. The season finale will also be telecast at a special time, 6 p.m. on June 22 on ESPN2.
BASS ON THE INTERNET
For information and news about BASS events, www.bassmaster.com is available to members of the media and the general public and provides daily wrap-ups and standings from each event as well as schedules of events and other BASS news.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Boat Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include Bass Cat Boats, G3 Boats and Bryant Heating and Cooling.
Sponsored locally by the City of Montgomery; State of Alabama Department of Conservation and Jubilee Cityfest.