Larry Hemphill: Bass Fishing Guide And Instructor
Larry Hemphill began his angling life as a trout fisherman. Then on an afternoon in 1962 Hemphill tossed a Heddon Injured Minnow topwater plug onto the surface of Lake Berryessa, a bass exploded on it and Hemphill successfully landed the first black bass of his life. That event ignited a passion in Hemphill that burns as strongly today as it did 50 years ago and set in motion a series of events that propelled Hemphill to become one of the most respected trophy bass guides in California.
Hemphill is one of the true pioneers of “modern bass fishing” in California, describing himself as one of the charter B.A.S.S. members in the state. Hemphill bought his first sonar unit, a venerable Lowrance Little Green Box, back in 1969.
Hemphill’s career as a bass angler really started to take shape in 1973 when he joined the San Jose Bass Busters Club and fished in his first bass tournament. The event was held at Lake McClure and Hemphill took fifth place. For the next ten years Hemphill was a regular participant in tournaments throughout northern California. Hemphill sums up his tournament success saying, “I didn’t win a great many tournaments but I always prided myself on my consistency. I finished in the top five much of the time and was seldom out of the top ten.”
In 1972, Hemphill began teaching youth fishing classes. As a trained high school music teacher Hemphill had both the temperament and ability to initiate learning, and the prospect of teaching people to bass fish intrigued and excited him. By 1981 Hemphill had earned a California guide’s license, because guiding offered him the perfect opportunity to share his skills with people new to the sport of bass fishing as well as veteran anglers.
Soon after he began guiding Hemphill stopped fishing in tournaments. When asked if he missed competing Hemphill related, “I don’t have anything against tournament angling, but as a rule I don’t like crowds of people. I also don’t enjoy the pressure of tournament style fishing. I love the outdoors and at this point life is too short for me to fish with a hundred other boats. That’s one of the reason I love night fishing so much. It allows me to fish lakes in complete solitude, that are overrun with recreational boaters and fishermen during the day.”
One of the major things about being a skilled guide that also loves to fish is that you must realize that the client comes first. I remember being out with a couple clients on Berryessa. The focus of the trip was on catching a lot of decent sized bass and having a good time. As my clients were fishing a huge largemouth of around 15 pounds boiled to the surface not far from the boat chasing a rainbow trout. Had I been by myself I would have immediately turned my attention to throwing a big swim bait in hopes of nailing that fish. However, the trip was not about me and my clients were content with the bass they were catching,” says Hemphill.
“Part of a guides job is analyzing the client while the other part is about analyzing the situation and the bass. I actually offer seven different types of trips to meet the needs of all the different types of clients I work with, whether they are interested in big numbers of bass, trophy bass, or tournament preparation,” continued Hemphill.
These days Larry guides bass anglers on a myriad of lakes throughout northern and central California. His standard destinations include Clear Lake, Bullards Bar, Lake Pardee, Lake Berryessa, Lake Oroville, Collins Lake, Lake Amador and Lake Almanor. Larry is very open to fishing other lakes on request. When you contact him he will advise you about the best time to fish a given water.
When you fish with Larry you’ll be fishing from a top of the line Ranger Z521 tricked out with Lowrance electronics, excellent quality tackle from G. Loomis and Shimano and a massive selection of lures for every situation.
Whether you want to get out and learn a lake for a tournament, just have a fun day fishing, learn the ropes of night fishing or if you are on the hunt for a true monster, get in touch with Larry Hemphill and he’ll make your bass fishing fantasies come true. You can call Larry directly at (530) 674-0276 or visit his website at lunkerlarry.com.