Most of his derby fish were caught on a…
Ken Cook, 64 and now retired, was one of the three men inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame this year, and like all pro fishermen has a ton of great stories. Here are a few that were recently in The Oklahoman newspaper:
I went to Oklahoma State and got a degree in zoology in 1969. I started working for the Wildlife Department. I was responsible for the management of fisheries in the public waters in 17 counties in southwest Oklahoma. Because I studied fish, both academically and in the field, it helped me understand relationships between bass and their prey and how the environment affected fish.
When I moved to Lawton I joined a bass club. I always enjoyed the competition. It was more exciting to catch fish in competition.
The first tournament I ever finished first was in 1973 at the Oklahoma State Bass Chapter Championship on Lake Texoma. The first B.A.S.S. tournament I fished was on Lake Texoma in 1976.
I thought I knew some places on Lake Texoma where I could catch them that nobody would find. I remember going to the first place I wanted to fish that morning. I went up the river a little ways to a little secret backwater spot and both Tom Mann and Roland Martin were in that cove. I thought,How in the hell did they find my spot? I just turned around and left. I fell flat on my face in that tournament.
I worked for the Wildlife Department for 13 years. I quit in March of ’83. I won the Super B.A.S.S. Tournament in Florida and $100,000. I came home and turned in my resignation immediately. That was about four times what I was making in a year working for the Wildlife Department so I knew I wouldn’t starve to death for a few years.
I was winning really regularly after that. The ’80s was my decade.
I caught 80 percent of the fish I weighed in at tournaments on spinnerbaits. Most of them came on lures that I designed.
The ’91 Classic was on the Chesapeake Bay. I knew how to catch them there. My confidence going in was extremely high.
We had a hurricane come across the eastern seaboard. Our practice days got shortened to 1. I changed my plan and I fished an area that I had found when I had been there before the cutoff. It was area that looked good but I didn’t catch any fish there before. But when I went there during that one day of practice it was loaded. I ended up winning the tournament in that spot.
It was a cove full of grass near a boat ramp. I found out later there had been a big tournament at that boat ramp and they had turned loose a lot of fish there. I am sure that played a role.
Nobody else ever came in sight for 3 days. I did not lead until the last day. I won the tournament by 3 ounces.
I fished professionally another 18 years. I got tired of not winning. I wanted to just as bad as ever but I couldn’t make it happen.
He won six Bassmaster events and more than $800,000 in his career. The Bassmaster Classic victory in 1991 was his final and biggest win on the tour.