All Speakers

Ben Minor & Jim Figg

Ben is the owner of Ben Minor Marine Service in Parsons, KS. He is a certified mechanic on Mercury, Mariner, Chrysler-Force, Johnson, and Evinrude. He was an avid tournament fisherman on the BassCat team for many years, and a former boat racer. Like most mechanics, he will not give information over the phone because that would be like someone expecting a doctor or lawyer to answer a medical or legal question with a phone call. 

Jim is a 30+year fishing tournament veteran with a focus on bass. He retired from civil service in 2011 after 30 with the Department of Army. Jim has been a tournament director, Major League Fishing boat official, and enjoys all aspects of sport fishing. He most enjoys that there is always more to learn about the marine industry and competitive fishing. 

Ben and Jim look forward to you visiting them at Fred's Shed to discuss all of your repair and maintenance needs! 

 

Christy Kurtz

Christy Kurtz LOVES to kayak, hitting the water over 90 times a year, from local Kansas City area lakes, rivers and creeks to the Ozarks, to Lake Superior and Maine Atlantic coast, to Florida's Gulf coast, and waters in between. After kayaking for years, she tired of the common problem of finding people who could and would show up to paddle at local spots, or even weekend and bucket list trips. In January 2015 she formed Paddle KC paddling club for active kayakers, paddleboarders and canoeists in the Kansas City area who DO get on the water together at least a couple of times a year. She volunteers to host frequent paddling outings and creates unique experiences including kayaking games, underground kayaking, kayak camping adventures, sunrise and sunset paddles, river float trips, skills clinics, and social events for paddlers.

Paddle KC paddling club hosts monthly activities for kayakers, paddleboarders and canoeists in the Kansas City area who own their own gear. The focus is on exploring paddling locations, learning and practicing new skills, and growing connections over a wide range of shared experiences and adventures. Member activities range from relaxing recreational paddles to longer endurance paddles and sea kayaking events, whitewater river runs, river float trips, and training clinics. All experience levels are welcome! Annual events include Spring Paddling Kickoff, spring Buffalo National River trip, 4th of July Fireworks On The Water, Full Moon Paddles, National Park bucket list trip, Ozarks Fall Float trip, Missouri River and Kansas River paddles. Annual clinics include "New Paddler Quick Start," "Kayak Camping 101," "Cold Water Paddling" and "Paddling Safety Essentials." Paddlers can join at www.meetup.com/paddlekc

Dustin Connell

Alabama angler Dustin Connell wasted no time making a name for himself on the Bassmaster Elite Series: he won the fourth event he fished (at Ross Barnett Lake in Mississippi) and claimed Rookie of the Year honors in 2018. Connell has 10 Top 10s in his short career. He will be presenting seminars on Saturday and Sunday at the Hawg Trough.

James Dill

James is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Lake of the Ozarks guide whose goal it is to make your fishing experience a fun and educational one.  He has been fishing the Lake of the Ozarks both for fun and competitively for 20 years with great success, and has spent many hours developing seasonal patterns to catch fish all year long. 

James has won around 20 of the bigger bass tournaments, and is best known for his jig-fishing skills. James is the owner of James Dill Guide Service and Crock-o-Gator Bait Company.

You can learn more about James and his guiding services by visiting his website at http://www.jamesdillguideservice.com

James Dill

Jason Griffith

Raised in Shawnee, KS, most of Jason's family roots derive from the rural Kansas and Nebraska farmlands.  "As a child, my dad would take my brother and me to the rivers in Kansas and Nebraska and we would bank fish for catfish mostly and enjoy our time outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.  Many years later, after relocating to Austin, TX for my career, I took up fishing again as a hobby to get away from the daily distractions of working in my career in the high-paced technology and automation field.  My interest in fishing was quickly rejuvenated and bank fishing soon turned into kayak fishing, which then lead me to an interest in kayak tournament fishing. 

While in Austin, I started an entry level ‘STAR’ kayak team, through Jackson Kayak, at a local kayak shop and livery in San Marcos, TX, and eventually worked my way onto the ‘official’ Jackson Kayak Regional Fishing Team.  Having fished in multiple tournament trails in the Central Texas region and dedicating much of my free time to soaking up as much information as I could from one of the top kayak shops in the U.S., I eventually worked my way through the ranks and onto the Jackson Kayak National Fishing Team. 

After relocating back to the Kansas City area in the summer of 2015, I successfully built and organized the Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing Series.  We were the first organized group in our area to offer a youth division within a series, and our main focus has always been to grow our sport and provide an inviting and friendly environment for seasoned anglers as well as new kayakers to our sport.  With my industry contacts and sponsors, and ability to network, I was able to draw kayak anglers from KS, MO, NE, IA, AR, and OK to these events in just a few months ‘ time.  

Heading into 2020, my focus will be on keeping the Mo-Kan Kayak Fishing community growing and striving to host the best kayaking events in our region, as well as supporting Kansas City’s newest premium kayak dealer, the Sportsman’s Outfitter and Marine, in Belton, MO."

More to Come!

Roger Umbarger

Roger's goal is to make you a better fisherman and to help you get more enjoyment from the great outdoors.

"Each year I’m honored to speak at a multitude of events and seminars including, Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Wounded Warriors, along with other venues, Emcee for “The Total Outdoorsman Challenge”   Emcee for “The Great Outdoors with Santa”, Marina Days Jackson County Parks and Recreation, Bass Pro Shops Fishing Classic, Jackson County Parks and Recreation, Drumm Farm (Orphans Home), Lake and Tank Demos."

 

Bassmaster Elite Marshal

Instructor Bass Pro University

One of the area's top experts on Electronics

On and Off the Water instructor

Active in many Bass tournaments for the last 35 years.

 

Pro Staff:

Bass Pro Shops

Cabela’s

Abu/Garcia

Berkley

Maui Jim

Starbrite

Shane Shanower

Shane travels all across the country to conduct seminars atop The Hawg Trough, a 5,000 gallon fully stocked fishing tank. He'll be teaching his best tips and techniques at free seminars throughout the weekend.