The Lure And Lore Of The Bass



Bass are predator fish.

"It's a good thing they don't get much bigger because they eat just about anything their size and below," Mark Kile said. As a former professional bass fisherman, Kile knows.

"They hide and try to ambush things," he said.

Bass use the power of their pea-sized brains to find forage. Their favorite meal? Crawfish, threadfin shad and bluegills. Bass will also eat unwary birds and dragonflies.

When you choose a lure, if you are not using one that looks like one of the above fish or insects, try to "match the hatch" as the saying goes.

"Match the hatch," means try a lure that looks like the larval stage of a particular insect. Turn over a rock to find what stages are active.

"The key to successful fishing is to spend a lot of time on the water," Kile said.

Patient fishermen are a myth.

Kile moves around a lot and tries different things.

Like tackle?

"Ninety percent of tackle is for fishermen," he said then smiled. "Look around the lake. The only things with metal flakes are fishing lures and bass boats."

"God gives everyone a gift and fishing is mine," said Kile, who makes his living now as a partner in the Tackle Box in Tonto Basin and a bass boat salesman.

"I was always lucky at it," he said.

As Kile recalls, the luck started when he was about four years old and his dad, Bill, and Uncle Gene would pack up the gear in their trailer, leave their Picacho home (in the middle of the desert) and go fishing.

"I would lay in my bed at night, close my eyes and still see the red bobber I had watched in the water all day," Kile said.

"There is more to being a fisherman than going fishing," Bill said.

When Kile was 8, catch-and-release was not practiced as much as it is now.

Kile did not need a fishing license, but he was only allowed half an adult limit -- five fish.

"He would catch 13 and I would catch two," Bill said.

One time the three were fishing "real hard" and Bill's fish slipped the line.

Bill used less than attractive language and threw his rod.

Kile laughed then said, "You shouldn't hit Uncle Gene with your rod."

"Now we go fishing and Mark says ‘Dad, you need to practice your casting,'" Bill said.

Kile went to college at the University of Arizona where he earned a degree in wildlife and fishery science.

He worked in a tackle store in Phoenix and spent a lot of time on Lake Pleasant and on bass lakes in Mexico guiding bass fishing trips.

Tournament fishing just kind of evolved.

In 2003, Kile was named Bassmaster's Rookie of the Year and he has qualified for three Bassmaster Classics, the Super Bowl of bass fishing.

At one South Carolina tournament, he caught five bass for a total of 33 pounds, netting the $40,000 first prize.

He took home second prize for the same amount of money at a BassPro Tournament on Clear Lake in California.

The final day Kile was in the lead and on the last cast of the tournament he hooked a big fish.

When the fish came to the surface, it got away.

"I threw down my rod and my hat before I thought, uh oh, I have a cameraman in my boat," Kile said. "The scene has been shown over and over on TV."

The fish cost him $60,000.

Kile and his wife Johnna traveled to tournaments with their daughter Jordyn.

Kile's last year on the pro circuit was 2004, the year their son Will was born.

Nowadays, family is the most important thing to Kile.

Last year he and Johnna fished a tournament together and took first place.

Will toddles around the house trailing a fishing pole.

And wiggly worms don't bother five-year-old Jordyn.

The family lives just about casting distance from Green Valley Park Lake, so, when Kile does not want to get out his skeeter boat, whiling away a spring afternoon is easy.

Red bobber trailing in the water, Jordyn said, "When I catch fish I put ‘em in a bucket."

Meanwhile, Will in his "eat sleep fish" ball cap finds worms in a bait cup.

"Get the big fat one," Jordyn prompts him. Will does, tosses the worm to waiting ducks and his sister's happy staccato laughter warms the windy day.

Spring fishing

Lake Roosevelt in the spring according to Mark Kile

  • Once the water hits 60 degrees or more you'll have to lie down in the boat not to catch a fish.
  • It has one of the best fish populations in the West for its size and is, in Kile's opinion, one of top five lakes to fish in the U.S.
  • Just last week one guy caught a 12-pound bass.

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