Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ken Holyoak in Memoriam by Dan Basore

Ken Holyoak in Memoriam

by Dan Basore

It wasn't until yesterday when ordering weed control advice for my pond that I learned of the passing in May of Ken Holyoak. Who is Ken you ask?
Here is his obituary that took a lot of searching to find in the files of the Berrien Press of Nashville, Georgia;
Hugh "Ken" Holyoak
Hugh "Ken" Holyoak, 72, of Alapaha died May 1, 2009, at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta.

Born November 23, 1936, in Enigma to the late Josiah Hugh and Jewell Dorminey Holyoak, he was owner and operator of Ken's Fish Hatchery in Alapaha and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He served in the Air Force Reserves.

Survivors include his wife, Judy Wilson Holyoak of Alapaha; two sons and daughters-in-law, Jason and Kim Holyoak of Alapaha and Hugh and Laura Holyoak of Enigma; two grandchildren, Kason Holyoak and Blise Holyoak.

Funeral services were held at 4 p.m. on May 5 in the chapel of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals with Bishop Tommy Spikes officiating. Interment was in Fletcher Cemetery in Alapaha. Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals was in charge of arrangements.


Sadly this doesn't begin to commemorate the life of such a great man who contributed so much to fishing. I was privileged to spend several visits with Ken. He even took most of a day to take me around to his various ponds and share the story of how he struggled for many years to develop the Georgia Giant Hybrid Bream. He was a geneticist and had a very creative mind.
Noting the scarcity of frogs on menus, and the difficulty of raising them commercially as they required live food he awoke in the middle of the night with a revelation. Having spent the previous afternoon at the dentist he got a suction device used to remove saliva, attached that to a hose and a salvaged windshield wiper from the junk yard.
He put these ingredients together so the hose would swing over to a container of fish food pellets and swing over to a pit with bullfrogs. As the hose with pellets swung around the frogs would jump up and devour the pellets and the hose would swing back for another one. There was no waste as the arm wouldn't pick up another pellet if one was still on the end of the hose.

He also helped me to solve weed problems in my and friends ponds with a revolutionary approach. He wouldn't sell you any kind of weed killer until you sent him samples wrapped in a wet paper towel and cloth.
Then he and his staff analyzed the weeds and prescribed the proper treatment just like a doctor would do for a patient. His present catalog is 95 pages of tips and products for hatcheries, ponds and fish farms.

Ken was a master at getting publicity. Remember the Hogzilla? That story of the big pig approaching 1,000 pounds was carried in newspapers all over the country. When some didn't believe the story, that the pig was too big to eat so they buried it, Ken invited them out to his farm and dug it up.
His Georgia Giant Hybrid Bream had bigger mouths so they would eat more, grow bigger and bite more readily than other panfish. This was a big plus for kids of all ages giving them more action and larger fish to catch and release or eat.
There is so much more to tell and he deserves more than his brief obit. I hope you will be able to share his story as his works will go on for a long time.

The web site for Ken's Fish Farm can be found by Clicking Here.

Thanks Dan, for alerting us to this. He sounds like a real titan of the fishing world and his presence will surely be missed.

-- Dr. Todd


Terrell said...

Hey...I went through Ken's frog farming siminar probably 20 years ago and stayed at the lodge. It was awesome. So sorry I just was thinking about him and decided to do a search. He even used an ad idea I had... FFFA. Future Frog Farmers of America. I hope someone reads this and responds...I'm still interested in frog farming

G R Smith said...

My nephew and I spent the day with Ken taking his course on commercially raising frogs. It saddens me to hear that he has passed away. We spent from daylight to dark there was not a dull moment he was a excellent teacher .and when we left we were certified frog Farmers with a certificate to prove it I hope his family continues with his work. May he rest in peace George R Smith Hollister Florida.