UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Erie

Tuesday Tour Update: Kenney’s career

Straight Talk pro JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., began his fish "harvesting" career punching mats on Lake Okeechobee.

Make no mistake about it, FLW Tour pro JT Kenney did not become a professional bass fisherman for fame and fortune. He did not become a professional bass fisherman to have a flashy jacked-up truck with 22s and a boat trailer with custom rims. He did not become a professional bass fisherman to be the grinning host of a fishing show. JT Kenney became a professional bass fisherman because it's a job - a way to make a living - not much different from a career in agriculture or perhaps aquaculture. Much like a farmer who harvests crops from the fields then separates the wheat from the chaff and brings product to market to get paid, Kenney says his job is very similar. "I'm a fish harvester, an employee of the water," Kenney suggests. "I catch fish, separate the big ones from the little ones and bring them to the scales to get paid." Kenney, who lives in Palm Bay, Fla., fundamentally sees professional bass fishing as being much more about casting and reeling for sustenance instead of wheeling and dealing for recognition. JT Kenney with the daily special from God "Here's the bottom line," Kenney says candidly. "I really like harvesting and consuming wild game and fish. Fishing is more than just catching to me. I like to hunt fish. I like to catch fish. I like to clean fish. And I really like to cook fish. The whole process is gratifying to me." Obviously the keeping and cleaning of freshwater bass became passe years ago with the advent of catch and release in tournament fishing. Plus, the taste of black bass is not all that desirable when compared to white fish from the ocean, so Kenney's true fish harvesting is often done with snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, cobia, redfish or snook. "I live about 6 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and I pretty much live off that pond," Kenney says with a grin. "I call it God's Grocery Store and it's my favorite place to shop. At my house we eat fish and game at least five nights a week." So what does harvesting saltwater fish have to do with tournament bass fishing? The way Kenney views it, catching and weighing in bass at catch-and-release tournaments is just another form of "harvesting," except you get paid by the weight and then the quarry is set free. "If you do your job well and bring in a good harvest, you get paid," Kenney says. "If you don't, you go home empty handed." And for Kenney, going away empty-handed means not being able to pay bills. "Don't get me wrong, I like my job and I'm thankful for my job," Kenney says. "But to me it's a job. Fishing is how I pay bills and put food on the table. I go out on the water to cast and reel for 9 to 12 hours a day no matter the conditions or how bad the fishing is." A rekindled Kenney: Fishing offshore has been JT Kenney Kenney's point is well made. The vast majority of his work as a professional angler is tedious and unheralded, like so many repetitious activities can be when they become a wage-earning obligation. "I'm not complaining," Kenney adds. "I just think a lot of people look at what we do as professional anglers and think it's a 12-month vacation or some kind of rock concert and I can assure you it's not. It's a job." And when it comes to his job, Kenney has done a pretty darn good job. He recently broke the million-dollar mark in winnings and in the last five seasons of competition he has cashed a check in nearly 70 percent of the events he has fished. Some of those checks have come from the EverStart Series where Kenney has been a mainstay since 2002 when he began fishing FLW events. Last year Kenney fished 10 FLW Tour events and two divisions of the EverStart Series - the Southeast and the Northeast - 19 tournaments in all. Some questioned Kenney's logic about fishing so many events in a season, but Kenney always returns to the same reasoning: "It's my job." "I pay my bills with tournament winnings," Kenney says. "I have to fish tournaments to get paid. And I've paid a lot of bills with EverStart winnings over the years." Bass maybe worth more, but JT 
Kenney contends that grouper still taste better. Indeed he has. In 2011 he was the EVS Southeast Division Angler of the Year and he won the EverStart Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain in 2012. In terms of FLW Tour competition, 2012 also marked Kenney's strongest season yet, posting 8th in the points. In fact, 2012 ended up being quite a season for Kenney. Out of his 19 events he cashed 15 checks totaling $194,248.00. To put that in Kenney's terms, he "harvested" a grand total of 624 pounds of bass in 2012, bringing the value of his bounty to $311.39 per pound. Not too bad for a fish harvester from Florida. "Bass may be worth more but grouper still taste better," Kenney quips. Early in his career, Kenney considered himself a bank beater, earning a lot of his loot from shallow water with a flipping stick. But these days, Kenney has taken his fishing to a much deeper level thanks to the incredible innovations in side scanning and down imaging. "I owe a lot of my success the last couple of years to Lowrance and the Structure Scan innovations," Kenney says. "It has gotten me off the bank and out into deeper water where untapped schools of bass live. Instead of dreading fishing deep, I actually look forward to it now, especially cranking." The deep game has rekindled Kenney, like getting a new office with a change of scenery. On lakes like Eufaula, Rayburn and Kentucky Lake he now turns his back to the bank to find offshore fish and it has helped him become a more consistent check casher. "Instead of staring at the bank, now I stare at a bottom machine," Kenney laughs. "When you fish the Over the last few years JT Kenney  has learned how to fish out deep for bass like this. bank, you don't really know if you are around fish. But when you can see them on your screen, you know for a fact there are fish down there and it makes a tremendous difference mentally. Now I'm almost annoyed when I have to go fish the bank, not knowing whether something lives there or not. That graph has become like a wubby - it's so comforting to see arches on your screen." And for the fish harvester from Florida, those arches are dollar signs.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-08-27-state-fish-art-contest-best-in-show-winner

State-Fish Art Contest Best in Show Winner

McKenna Litynski, 12, likes to draw, but she admits her older sister, Brenna, is the better artist and the one who teaches her most of what she knows. Both are pretty talented, though, especially considering they’ve each been state winners in previous years of the Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest presented by FLW. They both did so again in 2015, but McKenna did something this year that her older sister hasn’t: She won best in show. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-26-top-10-baits-from-the-forrest-wood-cup-

Top 10 Baits from the Forrest Wood Cup

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-25-2015-bass-bbq-festival-results

2015 Bass & BBQ Festival Results

The Bass and BBQ Festival presented by KSSN-FM took place in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Ark. The two-day competition was sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS), which boasts more than 19,000 members worldwide and is the largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-white-wins-tbf-junior-world-championship

White Wins TBF Junior World Championship

West Virginia’s Tyler White hit the mother lode of schooling bass to win the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship Aug. 21-22 on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. In doing so, he topped a hard-fishing field of 39 TBF junior state champions ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old, and claimed a $2,500 scholarship to the school of his choice, plus a $250 Cabela’s gift card. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-22-huntsville-wheeler-lake-to-host-2016-forrest-wood-cup

Huntsville, Wheeler Lake to Host 2016 Forrest Wood Cup

FLW and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced Saturday that Huntsville, Ala., will be hosting the Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, Aug. 4-7, 2016, on Wheeler Lake. This event marks the first time that the Forrest Wood Cup has visited Wheeler Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-young-leads-tbf-junior-world-championship

Young Leads TBF Junior World Championship

Kentucky’s Hunter Young worked the “ceiling” with a vengeance to sack a five-bass limit weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces and claim the overall lead on day one of the 2015 The Bass Federation Junior World Championship on Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton. The event is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. “My day went pretty well, even though I lost a few fish that cost me more weight than what I had,” he says. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-21-flw-sanctions-mexican-bass-tournaments

FLW Sanctions Mexican Bass Tournaments

This morning, FLW signed an agreement with LUTCOM SA DE CV, of Mexico City, Mexico, to bring its internationally sanctioned bass fishing tournaments to the United States’ southern neighbor as part of the International Division of the Rayovac FLW Series. The agreement was signed by Jaime Luengo, president and CEO of LUTCOM SA DE CV, and FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel during the FLW Morning Show before the day-two takeoff of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-13-british-bbq-star-heading-to-hot-springs

British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-11-weekend-wrap-up-aug-10-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – Aug. 10, 2015

The dog days of August are pretty well upon us now. Last weekend the BFL Illini and Northeast divisions were both in action, but that was it. Of course, there is still plenty to pay attention to as the Forrest Wood Cup gets closer by the minute. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-10-houston-rebuilding-lake-after-dam-failure

Houston Rebuilding Lake After Dam Failure

One of pro bass fishing’s true legends has vowed to rebuild it. In the process, he plans to resurrect what might have been one of the best private trophy bass fisheries the state of Oklahoma has ever seen. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-08-04-technical-issues-due-to-service-provider-outage

Technical Issues Due To Service Provider Outage

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-27-flw-signs-contract-for-south-korean-tournaments

FLW Signs Contract for South Korean Tournaments

At the day-two weigh-in of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River, FLW signed a contract that inked an exclusive licensing agreement with MirooNamoo Media Group from South Korea to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern-Asian country. South Korea will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new International Division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. Two anglers will compete as pros with FLW providing Ranger boats, and two will compete as co-anglers. The top pro award at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is $95,000, including a Ranger Z518C if the pro is Ranger Cup qualified, and the top co-angler award is a Ranger Z117. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-hunter-captures-co-angler-of-the-year-title

Hunter Captures Co-angler of the Year Title

Things couldn’t have worked out any better for first-year Walmart FLW Tour co-angler John Hunter, who wrapped up a phenomenal season from the back of the boat to win Co-angler of the Year and the Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard that goes with it. READ MORE »