"I probably caught four limits of keepers today," the smiling, 43-year-old angler told fans after he weighed in an 18-pound, 2-ounce limit to bring his four-day total to 68 pounds.
Mr. Hill was trailed by Davy Hite, of Ninety-Six, S.C., with a 59-pound, 8-ounce total; and Edwin Evers, with 57 pounds, 1 ounce.
Mr. Hill, who has won two Bassmaster tournaments in his career, most recently in 2003, said he has always hoped to win an Elite series title.
"I been doing this 21 years," he said. "I've had opportunities to do well before and haven't followed through. This is a really big deal."
He used a combination of swim baits, Carolina rigs and topwater plugs to exploit a spot he found in a remote corner of the 70,000-acre Thurmond Lake.
"I had found this one perfect point that had some big fish," he said. "It's the kind of point you can win a tournament on -- a lot of really big fish."
On Sunday, when many anglers were left idle by windless, sunny weather that inhibited fish movement, Mr. Hill returned to his hotspot around 10 a.m.
"I caught a 4- or 5-pounder right off," he said. "A couple minutes later I hooked a 7-pounder."
Mr. Hill said he is heading home to Norman, Okla., immediately to share the win with his father and mentor, Dr. Loren Hill, who is terminally ill with esophageal cancer.
"My dad taught me how to fish and he supported me emotionally and financially when I decided I wanted to be a professional angler," he said. "I want to get the trophy back to him as quick as I can so he can enjoy it."
Sunday's final round was the culmination of a weeklong fishing frenzy that began with 109 pros and 109 amateurs, all vying for the spotlight.
Wildwood Park was home to the tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
The Pride of Georgia was the fifth of 11 Bassmaster events this season. The next tournament is scheduled for May 15-18 at Lake Murray near Lexington, S.C.
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE TOP 12
Bassmaster Elite Series Pride of Georgia final standings and payouts:
ANGLER HOMETOWN WEIGHT PAYOUT
1. Kenyon Hill Norman, Okla. 68 lbs., 0 oz. $100,000
2. Davy Hite Ninety Six, S.C. 59 lbs., 8 oz. $31,000
3. Edwin Evers Talala, Okla. 57 lbs., 1 oz. $28,000
4. Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, Mich. 55 lbs., 1 oz. $18,000
5. Casey Ashley Donalds, S.C. 54 lbs., 10 oz. $17,000
6. Timmy Horton Muscle Shoals, Ala. 54 lbs., 2 oz. $15,500
7. Todd Faircloth Jasper, Texas 53 lbs., 15 oz. $15,000
8. Peter Thliveros St. Augustine, Fla. 53 lbs., 11 oz. $14,500
9. Skeet Reese Auburn, Calif. 53 lbs., 6 oz. $14,000
10. Denny Brauer Camdenton, Mo. 52 lbs., 4 oz. $14,500
11. Alton Jones Waco, Texas 49 lbs., 3 oz. $12,500
12. David Smith Del City, Okla. 48 lbs., 9 oz. $13,800
WANT TO SEE IT?
The Pride of Georgia tournament coverage will air as a one-hour special at 9 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2.