If you want to stay on Rick Hill’s good side, just mind your manners. Or, to be more exact, mind your minnows. 

That’s easy — don’t even mention them.

“If there is a crappie that is going to bite, I can catch him on a jig,” Hill said. “That sounds cocky, but it’s the truth. I know minnows catch fish, but they are just too much trouble. And I’m not into fishing with eight poles, so I keep my hand on the rod and feel the fish bite. 

“That’s just how I like to do it.”

Some people say you get more bites on minnows, and Hill doesn’t disagree with that — but what he will dispute is the percentage of strikes you feel with a minnow versus some sort of jig, whether hair or plastic. 

And the ones you feel are the ones you catch.

He does break down and put a pole in each hand when the fishing is right, but that’s about as far as he goes. 

And tournaments just aren’t for him: His competition is personal, between himself and the fish.

But Hill does use a variety of baits. He keeps his favorite proven jigs hooked into a piece of foam attached to the front deck of his boat, always within easy reach. It was given to him a decade ago by another crappie fishermen, and he loved the idea. 

But if you’re looking for some sort of hint at the bite by looking at the pile of baits, forget it. He’s got just about every color and style available within his grasp, and all of them look a bit worn from doing battle with crappie.

“To each his own — and this is my own,” he said, with a bearded smile that lets you know when it comes to catching crappie, his confidence can’t be topped. 

And usually, neither can his catch.