Kentucky karma

Pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., collects his second $100,000 check in Wal-Mart FLW Tour competition at Kentucky Lake.

BENTON, Ky. - You would think a 4 1/2-pound lead would be enough, but you're never safe at a standout bass fishery like Kentucky Lake. Auburn, Ala., pro Steve Kennedy came in with a hefty, 21-pound, 6-ounce limit Saturday and won his second Wal-Mart FLW Tour tournament at Kentucky Lake, quashing the title hopes of hometown favorite Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky. ItBolton entered the day with a 4-pound, 9-ounce lead over second-place Kennedy and the rest of the pro finalists. Bolton seemed poised - finally, after many top finishes and even victories in lesser tournaments here - to win his first big-money event on his home lake. But when all the fish had been caught and counted Saturday, Bolton's 16-pound, 8-ounce limit couldn't stand up to Kennedy's 21-6. The final weight tally: Kennedy 37-5, Bolton 37-1 - a narrow 4-ounce difference. Steve Kennedy reacts after edging out Terry Bolton for the Kentucky Lake win."It's absolutely awesome. I had so many opportunities in the last year. I sort of had a pattern going. I had a bad tournament, and then I finished fourth. Another bad tournament, then third. I had a bad tournament before this one, so I just assumed I'd be second," Kennedy said. "It just feels great to have a good final day while the cameras were on and to get over that hump." Counting this one, Kennedy has collected two $100,000 winner's checks on the FLW Tour, both of them at Kentucky Lake. In 2003 the lake was extremely high, and Kennedy won here by throwing crankbaits and fishing Carolina rigs over flooded gravel flats. He used a completely different approach to win this year. "I was just fishing ledges out there on the main lake, throwing a football jig out there and dragging it on the bottom," said Kennedy, not exactly pinpointing his fishing area as "north of the (Hwy. 68) bridge" on Kentucky Lake. "It had no relation at all to three years ago. I actually found most of these places two years ago when Anthony (Gagliardi) won. I didn't have but about four or five places with fish on them." Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., weighs in his last bass, a 4-pound, 13-ounce kicker smallmouth that gave him victory.Kennedy said he caught his bass on a ¾-ounce, brown-and-purple PJ's Football jig with a green-pumpkin Kinami Doubletail grub. "I was throwing to about 12 feet (of water) and dragging it out to about 22 feet," he said. "But I caught most of them pretty shallow. It was just an awesome day. I probably caught 20 keepers today." While most of his fish were largemouths, Kennedy's effort was aided greatly when he caught one of his kicker bass - a 4-pound, 13-ounce smallmouth - not far from Kentucky Dam Marina shortly before check-in. "I caught this fish with about five minutes left," he said. "It was awesome because that fish jumped over the net the first time." Terry Bolton of Paducah, Ky., led the tournament Friday with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 9 ounces and then added five more bass weighing 16 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday for a two-day total of 37 pounds, 1 ounce. He finished second.Bolton's lost fish cost him Like Friday, all 10 of the pro finalists caught five-bass limits Saturday. In total, the pros caught 50 bass the last two days, and 49 of them were released alive. The one that didn't make it, however, belonged to Bolton. An audible gasp arose from the knowledgeable Kentucky Lake crowd when they realized that their hometown hope would incur an 8-ounce penalty when it counted most. Bolton's limit actually weighed 17-0 and would have given him the victory, but his official weight went down as 16-8 thanks to the penalty. "That's just the risk you take when you fish deep this time of year. I did everything I could to take care of that bass," said Bolton, who fished Kentucky Lake ledges with a 5/8-ounce homemade jig and green-pumpkin Zoom trailer, a ¾-ounce spinnerbait and a 10 1/2-inch Zoom worm. "I caught it on a worm in the top of the head, and it was stressed from the spawn. Sometimes they die, and that's just part of it. Of course I was worried, but there was nothing I could do about it." While he lost an agonizingly close one at home due to unfortunate circumstances, just missing his first tour-level win, Bolton seemed to take the disappointment much better than the crowd. "It's a tough way to lose, but rules are rules, and and that's the way it goes," said Bolton, who admitted that he was more concerned about a big fish that he lost on a spinnerbait than he was about the penalty. "If it was meant to be my time, it would have happened. If I would have caught that fish, who knows what would have happened?" "I hate to win because of a dead fish, but I'll take it," Kennedy said. Bolton earned $36,000 for second place. Third place went to Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas, for a final-round total weight of 30 pounds even. He caught 14-14 Saturday, including this 7-4 kicker largemouth.Yamamoto flips, Fritts rebounds, Lytle steady Third place and $25,000 went to Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas, for a final-round total weight of 30 pounds even. He caught 14-14 Saturday, including a 7-4 kicker largemouth. "That was the most exciting time of my day," Yamamoto said about the big bass. "I was bored stiff just trying to catch only eight fish." Yamamoto said he started the day trying to fish deep, but caught nothing and moved back to the shallows, where he filled out his limit on a prototype cut-tail worm that he called a "swimming Senko." "I guess it's not going to be a prototype for long," he laughed. David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., caught the second-heaviest limit of the day - 18 pounds, 15 ounces - and came back from a 10th-place performance Friday to finish the tournament in fourth place with a weight of 29-4.David Fritts of Lexington, N.C., caught the second-heaviest limit of the day - 18 pounds, 15 ounces - and came back from a 10th-place performance Friday to finish the tournament in fourth place with a weight of 29-4. He earned $20,000. "This lake's been good to me," said Fritts, who threw crankbaits this week. "I really had a good chance to win, but I got really frustrated yesterday because I couldn't cast in that wind. But I had a lot of fun today. I probably caught 50 or 60 keepers." Curt Lytle of Zuni, Va., caught 13 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday and finished the week in fifth place with a weight of 27-8.Curt Lytle of Zuni, Va., caught 13 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday and finished the week in fifth place with a weight of 27-8. He collected $18,000. "It was going good. The current was flowing, I caught four fish in 45 minutes, and I thought, `This is going to be the day,'" said Lytle, who stuck to flipping and pitching the shallows on the lower end of Barkley Lake. "Then somebody at the Army Crops of Engineers turned off the water, and that was it. It was like the Dead Sea. But that's the way it goes." Rest of the best Rounding out the top 10 pro finishers in FLW Tour competition at Kentucky Lake: 6th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., 26-5, $17,000 7th: David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., 24-13, $16,000 8th: Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., 24-10, $15,000 9th: Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., 22-13, $14,000 10th: Toshinari Namiki of Mineola, Texas, 22-10, $13,000 Standings update With just one tournament remaining, Anthony Gagliardi retook the lead in the pro standings after posting a big comeback weight on day two and finishing 27th at Kentucky Lake. He has 868 points. Bunched up behind him are Jim Moynagh (833 points), Matt Herren (832) and Gabe Bolivar (828), plus Ray Scheide (800). Coming up The next Wal-Mart FLW Tour event, the sixth and final regular-season tournament, is scheduled for Lake Champlain at Plattsburgh, N.Y., June 21-24.

Tags: headline-story  jeff-schroeder 

/news/2015-04-26-arey-does-it-again

Arey Does it Again

Quaker State pro Matt Arey of Shelby, N.C., wowed the crowed in Rogers, Ark., today with an incredible 17-pound, 3-ounce five-bass limit to come from behind and win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake. This is Arey’s second consecutive Beaver Lake FLW Tour victory. Arey’s final-day surge was enough to surpass two-time reigning Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, who led yesterday but weighed in only 9-08 today and fell to third. Arey’s four-day total was 55-06, earning the pro $125,000. READ MORE »

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Beaver Lake Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-morgan-maintains-his-lead

Morgan Maintains His Lead

One of Andy Morgan’s fishing mottos is to make the best of what you have got “in front of you” to survive and fish another day. Beaver Lake doesn’t give much. So when an angler as resourceful as Morgan gets to a lake that doesn’t give out many resources, the two work well together. Instead of worrying about hitting it out of the park or putting immense pressure on himself to come up with a grand winning strategy, Morgan just scraps, scrapes and claws at the ground right in front of him, making the best of what he’s got. Morgan’s performance on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake was a prime example of his “make the best of it” attitude. After burning up the spawning fish he had located in practice during the first two days of the tournament, he was forced to fish by the seat of his pants today – something he thoroughly enjoys. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-gordon-and-gagner-crowned-tbf-champs

Gordon and Gagner Crowned TBF Champs

Two more anglers qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup today by winning the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. Shawn Gordon of Russellville, Ark., earned the TBF crown on the boater side by catching a three-day limit of 50 pounds, 2 ounces, capped by the largest limit caught today – 18 pounds, 10 ounces. Gordon earned $5,000 for his win, but more importantly, he’ll be competing against the best pros in the business in August at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Gordon also won the TBF “Living The Dream” package, which includes paid entry into the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour, a travel stipend, and use of a wrapped truck and Ranger bass boat. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 3

Andy Morgan didn’t light up the world on day three of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake, but he caught what he needed to maintain the lead and put a 1-pound, 9-ounce cushion between he and Matt Arey. Most of the rest of the top 20 scrambled today, abandoning their patterns and trying new options to try and make the final-day cut. Here’s how the top five got it done. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-25-beaver-lake-day-3-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-make-way-for-morgan

Make Way for Morgan

“Hidden largemouths” is quickly becoming the buzz term at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac, as those atop the leaderboard are using the term to refer to spawning largemouths that are so well hidden that other competitors never found them. These hidden fish are covered by thick brush, hidden so deep that they were only found during the very rare windows of sunshine during practice or located off the beaten path. The latter are not in obvious pockets or places where one would expect to find beds, but rather out on the main bluff channels where few ever look. On day one, Jacob Wheeler caught hidden largemouths to take the lead. On day two, former Beaver Lake champion Andy Morgan caught hidden largemouths to take over the pole position going into the weekend. His catch of 15 pounds, 7 ounces today gives Morgan a two-day total of 28-09 to take the lead by just 11 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 2

At halftime of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five reads like a who’s who of Beaver Lake. Leader Andy Morgan is a former Beaver Lake champion. Behind him, Darrel Robertson has been very close to winning here with a runner-up finish in 2005. In third is 2014 Beaver Lake champion Matt Arey. Bryan Thrift, in fourth, has never won on Beaver Lake, but has led here before. And finally, fifth-place pro Stetson Blaylock knows his way around this lake pretty well, too, with a couple of top 10s. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-heckman-heads-up-tbf-championship-field

Heckman Heads up TBF Championship Field

Some bass are still spawning in Grand Lake, and others are yet to make their way up to the shallows, but none of that interests Sam Heckman. Diligent commitment to his postspawn plan here Friday landed Heckman atop the boater field with 34 pounds, 3 ounces and locked up his Southwest Division win at the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship. Saturday, the top boater from each of seven TBF divisions will vie for the TBF National Championship and the “Living the Dream” package that goes with it. The package includes paid entry in the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour as a pro, a Forrest Wood Cup berth and use of a custom-wrapped truck and Ranger boat on Tour for the year, as well as a travel stipend for each event. Seven non-boaters – one from each TBF division – also will fish in tomorrow’s final round for a chance at paid entry into a Rayovac FLW Series division of choice. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-24-beaver-lake-day-2-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-wheeler-with-a-slim-lead

Wheeler with a Slim Lead

Jacob Wheeler has a plan to win the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac on Beaver Lake this week. That plan involves primarily the largemouth species, a target weight of 14 pounds per day and a lot of fish management. Today, Wheeler surpassed his target by nearly 2 pounds with a 15-pound, 14-ounce catch that puts him in the driver’s seat at Beaver Lake, in the lead by just a scant 5 ounces over second-place pro Bryan Thrift. “Largemouths are the way to win here at Beaver Lake,” Wheeler says. “They are the fish to go the distance here, and that’s what I’m focusing on.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-top-5-patterns-from-beaver-lake-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Beaver Lake Day 1

Though there were plenty of fish caught off beds at Beaver Lake on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Rayovac, the top five is rounded out by a group of anglers who relied on sight-fishing very little. Opinions on where exactly bass are in the spawning cycle at Beaver Lake vary greatly from angler to angler, but a few common denominators did come to light on day one. For starters, most agree that one major spawning cycle has already occurred. Plenty of empty beds and a lot of gaunt, postspawn fish at the scale were evidence of that. Second, there are still some bass (of all species) trying to spawn, but the ones left on beds are extremely wary. Finally, the order of difficulty to catch each species ranks as follows: smallmouth bass – extremely easy; spotted bass – not as easy; largemouth bass – extremely difficult. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-griffith-grabs-tbf-lead-

Griffith Grabs TBF Lead

By midday, the prospects were unclear for Jon “Scooter” Griffith here in The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, but in a roundabout way it provided just the clarity he needed to dial in a pattern that helped him take the day-one lead with an 18-pound, 13-ounce limit. Griffith began his day by sight-fishing the clear water down by the Pensacola Dam. This opening move, he says, gave him some early comfort, as it matched the transparent water he’s used to fishing near his home in Mesa, Ariz. Targeting windblown points, Griffith got his early bites with reaction baits in about 4 to 8 feet of water. Unfortunately, the plan turned out to be less productive than he had expected. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-beaver-lake-day-1-coverage

Beaver Lake Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tbf-championship-tips-off

TBF Championship Tips Off

The spawn is on at Grand Lake, but that’s not the only game in town. As the 2015 The Bass Federation National Championship plays out for the next three days, anglers will find this northern Oklahoma impoundment abounding with lots of fishing options. Brian Maloney, the 2012 Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American champion, says he was impressed with what he found in practice. “The quality of fish on Grand is just amazing,” notes the Missouri angler. “This lake continues to put out 3- and 4-pounders, and right now there’s a variety of things we can do. “There are guys sight-fishing for spawning fish, and we’re probably looking at another wave or two of fish coming in soon. I’m sure the full moon coming up in another week or so will move them in.” Adding that the lake currently has fish in all prespawn, spawning and postspawn stages, Maloney thinks that TBF contenders will be greeted by a mix of water conditions typical for Grand this time of year. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-top-10-baits-from-lake-murray

Top 10 Baits from Lake Murray

Competitors in the FLW College Fishing National Championship mostly targeted bass feeding on spawning blueback herring on shallow points and main-lake pockets. Across the board, herring-imitating baits such as soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, topwaters, wake baits and umbrella rigs dominated the event. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-jig-bite-carries-holmes-on-wateree

Jig Bite Carries Holmes on Wateree

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/news/2015-04-20-bryan-slows-down-for-chickamauga-win

Bryan Slows Down for Chickamauga Win

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/news/2015-04-20-morfis-dominates-with-34-pound-limit

Morfis Dominates With 34-Pound Limit

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-20-salzman-cracks-31-pounds-on-guntersville

Salzman Cracks 31 Pounds on Guntersville

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