Kyle Schoenherr had one of the best runs in tournament fishing from 2010 to 2018. He won three national championship classic tournaments, two Alabama state championships and had over 30 top ten finishes around the country. Regardless which lake or river they were fishing, he and partner Rodney Neuhaus worked hard, proved their ability to learn patterns and found key areas holding big fish. They were masters at doing what was necessary to catch good crappie and win tournaments.
Schoenherr is 40 years old, lives in Oakdale, IL and is married with two sons. He enjoys his career as a crappie guide and enjoys recreational fishing.
You disappeared from tournament fishing when you were hot and winning. Why?
“I still have an itch to compete, but I have a family and two boys in sports. I wanted to spend more time with them, so I put the tournaments on hold for a few years. I probably shouldn’t say this, but things have changed a lot in the last three or four years so I’m not sure about fishing the tournaments in the future. When I was fishing, a good fisherman could scout for a week, figure things out and have an advantage. Working hard meant a lot. With today’s electronics, a fisherman can come to a lake and win without putting in the hard work. That’s just the way it is.”
How did you get started guiding? After 13 years, what keeps you motivated?
“I was a commercial carpenter for nine years but ended up having a couple of back surgeries. I needed to get into a different job, so I started guiding.
“I do wear out by the end of the year, but I get a two-month break in the winter and that gets me motivated again. I’ve always loved hunting for crappie and being a guide. However, I have a lot of boats move in on me daily so I’m always searching for new spots. It’s my business to help clients catch fish. I like to stand behind them and see them catch all the fish.”
“…Now it’s all about electronics more than fishing.”
“There’s not much that I don’t enjoy about crappie fishing. I like fishing a variety of ways to catch them. I’m on the water many days a year but catching them can really be a challenge some days. Crappie aren’t always predictable as most people think. Electronics lets us see how finicky they can be and not bite. Some of my favorite fishing is when I turn off the electronics, cast a cork or fish in the bushes. I still like slow trolling, too.
“The only thing I don’t like is the direction crappie fishing is headed. Now it’s all about electronics more than fishing.”
Your fishing strengths?
“My strength is probably versatility. On the trail, Rodney and I did whatever we needed to do to be competitive no matter how much time it took. Living here was an advantage because we fished Rend, a shallow to mid-depth muddier-type lake, Kincaid, a deep clear lake and Lake of Egypt, a power plant lake. We had a variety of conditions and waters to fish and learn. We practiced a lot and would slow troll the thickest, crazy cover we could find just so we could do it in tournaments. I’ve always worked hard.”
“Grenada for big fish. However, the Alabama River is probably my overall favorite. I used side imaging, put in the work and could find the fish. I had waypoints all up and down the river but sometimes it could be miles between good spots. It has current, it changes clarity and you might catch a big white crappie and a black from the same spot. It’s a great place to fish even though it can be challenging.”
Pet Peeve? “It has to be boats finding me and moving in on the area.”
Superstitions? “None. We won our third national championship and Rodney had a banana in the boat.”
Fishing Hero? “It has to be Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman. I was just getting out of high school when they started winning tournaments. I always listened to what they said.”
Boat Food? “Not much. Maybe some water and crackers.”
Sports Teams? “Nashville Hornets.”
Something people don’t know about you? “I was born in Oklahoma and moved here when I was five.”
How would you like to be remembered? “As a good person, trustworthy and reliable.”
Tim Huffman has specialized in crappie fishing writing and photography since 1988. He is Senior Writer for CrappieNow Digital Magazine, a freelance writer and book author. His new 2022 book is Crappie Annual & Product Guide. Books are available at Grizzly Jig Company, Amazon or link to his website http://monstercrappie.com