Published : 2018-11-18 11:46:06
Categories : News and Reviews
We had a great series of kayak fishing tournament in Arizona this past year and want to congratulate Don Hill as 2018’s Angler of the Year! We tracked the results for each participating angler and awarded points based on the position of each angler – for example, if there were 40 entrants at an event, the top finisher earned 40 points; #2 earned 39 and on down the line. The angler with the most earned points at the end of the series is our Angler of the Year. Don was recognized for his achievement at our last event of the year in Lake Havasu, and we had a few questions for Don to share with our kayak fishing community.
Tell us where you grew up and what do you do now when you are not fishing?
I grew up in Missouri, 30 miles south of St Louis. My wife Debbie and I have been married for 27 years and we have one daughter, Ashley that just graduated from college. I am very blessed to have their support in my fishing passion. I currently am a Landscape Coordinator for the City of Mesa Parks Department. I have been there for about 6 years, and love what I do.
What has been your evolution in fishing - how did you get your start fishing and when did that develop into kayak fishing?
I learned to fish as a child from my parents. They liked doing it occasionally, I loved it and wanted to fish anytime I could. I never had access to a boat, so I was forced to fish small creeks, streams and ponds - fishing from shore and wading as often as I could. I didn’t get the tournament bug until last year, when I joined a couple of the Az Urban Tournaments. I enjoyed that but wanted to fish more than just the urban lakes. I have followed the Az Kayak and Motorless group on Facebook for a couple years before finally getting my first kayak in July of 2017. When I entered the Lower Gear tournament at Apache Lake last year, I knew I had found my ‘happy place’. Although I didn’t even get a bite in that tournament, I really enjoyed the experience, and met a bunch of good people that I can now call friends.
What kind of kayak and rigging setups do you have and how many / what type rods do you usually take out for the tournaments?
I currently have a Field and Stream Eagle Talon 12’ Sit on top fishing kayak. I have added a couple DIY rod holders and a Garmin Striker 4 fish finder. I have carried as few as two rods and as many as six during the tournaments. For the Lake Havasu event, I will have 2 spinning outfits and 4 casting combos. I am using a Shimano Nasci spinning reel on a Ducket rod, my baitcasters are all Piscifun on various Bass Pro Shop rods, plus one Bass Pro casting combo.
What are your go-to lures and techniques to achieve the consistent results you had across the several lakes we’ve fished at this year’s tournaments?
Until the tournament last month at Roosevelt, every single fish I have measured has come on a dropshot. I know that will come as a surprise to many. I have been working hard to expand my horizons, and have caught several on some custom crank baits from AzScout -thanks Tim!
When you have time to go wherever you want, what’s your favorite water to hit?
I live 10 minutes from the Salt River at Granite Reef. I fish there a lot, and have extreme confidence that I can catch fish there. My favorite lake is Canyon, but the algae bloom this year forced me to fish elsewhere. I don’t really have a favorite time of year.
I just want to say thank you for putting these tournaments together. I have learned more in the last year from Bryce Gibbs, Mario Galaviz, Brian Soefje, Tim Gauthier, Paul Travis, Jean-Michel Quillien, Patrick Tallabas, and several others than I could have ever learned on my own because of the educational information shared after these events. I would highly encourage anyone who has even remotely considered entering a tournament to give the Lower Gear Open tournaments a try. It is as low pressure as it gets, and everyone is generally willing to help in any way possible.