Monday, July 21, 2008

UPDATE: The Passing of Dr. Loren Hill (1940-2008)

Bernie Schultz passes on some sad news as Dr. Loren Hill, a former University of Oklahoma zoology professor, passed away late last week in Norman at the young age of 68. Hill was the inventor of the Color-C-Lector, a device that was introduced in 1984 and originally manufactured by Lake Systems Divisions of Mt. Vernon, Missouri. They were written up (rather glowingly) in the 15th anniversary issue of The In-Fisherman in May 1985.

Dr. Hill was the former Director of the Zoology Department and Biological Research Center at the University of Oklahoma. He developed the Color-C-Lector after nine years of research. As the current ad for the C-Lector says:

[Dr. Hill] established a range of 26 colors that were best visible to the eyes of a fish. Through careful observation and patience, Dr. Hill was able to train the fish to differentiate 26 color positions under optimum conditions. He then altered those conditions to stimulate various times of day and varying degrees of water clarity. With each change, the correct responses were carefully measured and recorded. The Color-C-Lector is the result of those experiments and reflects the responses of fish to color under all conditions that anglers will encounter.

The original Color-C-Lector was intended to be used with the accompanying PH Guide. You dropped the gauge into the water, and the hands moved to the appropriate color recommended for use during the measured water conditions. While the C-Lector had its share of detractors, it also has its adherents, and many of them are die-hards. The original unit is still sought after today and many of them are purchased by anglers who have worn out one or two previous models.

Companies such as Bill Lewis, who once offered Rat-L-Trap lures in colors suggested by the C-Lector, and Ditto Lure Company, who made plastic worms in the C-Lector color scheme, offered products that helped C-Lector users easier use their units.

The unit's popularity is such that it is still available today, in a digital model made by Spike-It of Linwood, Michigan since 2004. Dr. Hill's legacy will certainly be as a pioneer in the effort to meld laboratory science and sportfishing--something so common today it is an afterthought. When the history of fishing in the later part of the 20th century is chronicled, Dr. Loren Hill will play a significant role. Loren's son Kenyon is a very succesful professional bass angler who dedicated his May 04 victory to his ailing father.

Dr. Hill also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that professors can actually catch fish--and not just professor's children, as one gentleman so helpfully pointed out at the recent NFLCC Nationals in Peoria. Thanks to Bernie--who travels with Kenyon Hill on the pro circuit--for sending along the sad news of his passing.

-- Dr. Todd

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