Dr. Loren G. Hill, longtime fishery academic and avid bass angler, passed away recently after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 68.
As the former Director of the Zoology Department and Biological Research Center at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Hill was best known as the inventor of the Color-C-Lector, a device that helped anglers choose lure colors based on water and light conditions. First introduced in 1984, the unit is still manufactured today — in a digital version — by Spike-It.
But, there was much more to his life than one invention.
Hill was a firm believer in applying academic research to real-world fishing situations. He published over 50 scientific papers, most of which had some practical application for weekend bass anglers.
His first commercial project was the Snatrix, marketed by Bill Norman. "He researched the heck out of that lure," said his son, Elite Series pro Kenyon Hill. "He'd watch snakes swim for hours and analyze their movements so he could get the action of the Snatrix right, and right means perfect. He was a detail man as well as a practical fisherman. "
Hill also pioneered the concept of using pH as a black bass fishing tool. His research at the University of Oklahoma convinced him that anglers could locate bass, and predict their behavior, by measuring the pH factor of the water. Ultimately he developed an affordable and portable pH meter for anglers.
His most recent work was with BSX Biosonics. He was fascinated by the concept of fish communication and their learned behavior. His early research was the basis for the first Biosonics unit. No less an angler than Kevin VanDam is a believer in the concept and the product.
All of that notwithstanding, Kenyon Hill remembers Dr. Loren Hill as a father.
"He taught me most of what I know about bass fishing. Dad was one of those rare academics who could work in the real world. He loved to fish — anywhere, anytime, anyplace. When I was a kid that was about all we did. I knew he was a teacher at a college, but in my eyes he was a fisherman, pure and simple.
"My fishing got off to a good start with him as my teacher. Most of my success can be attributed to him. He taught me to think about what the fish were doing, why they were doing it and what I should be doing to catch them. He's directly responsible for my win at Clarks Hill. I used what he taught me to catch the winning bag.
"I was so happy after that win. Not for me, but for him. I shipped the trophy home immediately so he could see it and appreciate it. I wanted him to have it. I'm really glad that happened before his passing. My first Elite win couldn't have come at a better time."