A little more chaos required

JT Kenney

Well, it actually happened. For the first time in eight years, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines at the Forrest Wood Cup. As I sit here and drink in the intoxicatingly sour flavor that this revelation has left in my mouth, somehow I find myself savoring the flavor. Perhaps that’s because it’s the flavor of something that I will never taste again. At least that’s how I feel, anyway; that’s how I’m taking it. Never again.

This game that we all play is one of the oddest forms of competition imaginable. There are so many variables that are out of our control. To some extent it’s almost as if it doesn't matter how hard you try. Take my year, for example. I know for a fact that I spent more time on the water this year than ever in the practice periods for the Tour events. All season, when practice was allowed, there was maybe an hour or two of daylight when I wasn’t on the water. The exception was a day at Beaver Lake. I hate that lake. I hope they drain it. Please don’t let any of that nasty water into any other lake because it’ll probably ruin it too.

I was more organized, more prepared and – or so it seemed to me – more ready than ever for this Tour season. I’m a veteran. I know what it takes to do well in this game. Yet I had my worst Tour season in a long time. As a matter of fact, I had an embarrassing season (40-something in the point standings) and would like to apologize to my sponsors and fans.

Now, let’s be honest here. When I say it doesn’t matter how hard you try, I don’t mean that literally. What I think I lost track of was not the hunger to do well. It was certainly not the need to make money or the desire to be the best at what I do. Rather, what I think I missed was the ability to let things happen and adjust accordingly.

That’s something I’ve prided myself on being able to do very well, and I preach it all the time during seminars. Maybe I should listen to myself instead of trying to help other people. I think being on the water as much as you can be is essential to doing well. But it has to be productive time on the water. If you practice for 10 hours a day and you’re very focused for all 10 hours, that’s great. If you practice for 14 or 15 hours a day, but are only focused nine or 10 of them, you’re just wasting that time and making it harder to be focused all day the next, and the next and the next ...

At the Tour level of this game, everybody out there can cast a crankbait a country mile or read a depth finder. At this level it’s what’s between your ears that matters the most. It’s the decisions that you make and how you let the day ebb and flow.

Some of the best fishermen I know are train wrecks on the water. I’ve seen Luke Clausen come in to the check-in boat at the end of the day with broken lines flapping in the breeze behind the boat, rub rail half hanging off, and more colors and sizes of lures piled on the floor and deck than I could count. I asked him what he did to make it look like a tornado just went through his boat. Oh, about 19 or so in the livewell, he answered. That tornado that went though his boat was a genius in disguise.

Don’t even get me started on David Dudley. Here’s a guy who can’t even remember to put oil in his boat while fishing a $500,000 Forrest Wood Cup (which he won, by the way) with the ceramic missing from his rod guide. Dudley is also a three-time Angler of the Year. Then there’s Steve Kennedy, who can pick up a jig with a rusty hook off the floor of his boat and win a tournament with it. These are the guys that are my heroes.

This year, that would not have happened to me because I wouldn’t have had a jig in my boat with a rusty hook. In fact there wouldn't have been a jig on the floor because it would have been put away in its proper place. Next year I’m gonna get back to fishing that way – with a little more chaos.

Well, let’s say organized chaos.

Tags: blog  jt-kenney 

/news/2015-03-18-garrick-dixon-gallery-the-best-of-jt-at-toho

Garrick Dixon Gallery: The Best of JT at Toho

Photographer Garrick Dixon followed Walmart FLW Tour pro JT Kenney for four days as Kenney pieced together his wire-to-wire win at the season opener on Lake Toho. In this gallery, Dixon shares with FLW fans his favorite shots of Kenney on the water, at weigh-in and behind the scenes. READ MORE »

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Expect Change and Adapt to It

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A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

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A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

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Kenney Connects the Dots

Mercury pro JT Kenney was as confident as he could be early in the week at the Walmart FLW Tour season-opener on Lake Toho. He had an incredibly refined plan built on a series of precisely placed waypoints. The waypoints marked isolated spawning areas within beds of lily pads. In the first two days of competition, Kenney looked unstoppable with limits weighing 29-14 and 22-9, respectively, to build a lead of 12-10. On day three, Kenney looked human. His limit of 14-5 could have left the door open – but after weigh-in Kenney’s lead shrank by only 2 ounces. And today, it looked as if the king, despite a massive lead, was about to give up his crown. Kenney weighed in only 9 pounds, 4 ounces. But that was enough. The Florida pro squeezed through by an 11-ounce winning margin to win the first Tour event of 2015. READ MORE »

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Strader Striding, Kenney Gaining Steam

Wesley, Wesley, Wesley. If anyone is going to catch JT Kenney and overtake his 12-pound, 8-ounce lead, it appears as if Wesley Strader is the man to do it. He lit up the leaderboard and FLW’s On The Water feed yesterday when he caught more than 21 pounds in one short midday flurry. Now he’s doing it again on day four. Strader has a 9-pounder in the boat and a limit estimated at more than 20 pounds. Most of that limit was in the boat by about 9:30, leaving him plenty of time to upgrade. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-kenney-on-cruise-control

Kenney on Cruise Control

For those who don’t believe that professional fishing is a game of offense and defense like any other sport, consider JT Kenney’s strategy for the last three days of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury. The first two days, Kenney ran pure “offensive plays” on key, precise bedding areas to run up the score. Today, he ran more “defensive plays” to protect his lead. READ MORE »

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A Morning with the Leader

Sullen gray skies and a gusting northeast wind contrast with the weather on opening day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury here on Lake Toho. JT Kenney jumped out to the lead with a solid stringer of almost 30 pounds on Thursday, but Saturday is altogether different, and expectations match the weather. No pattern is weatherproof, including Kenney’s, but at least he knows that neither is anyone else’s. The brisk northeast wind is scooting his boat along at a fairly fast clip, and he’s fishing a spinnerbait that helicopters with every cast. To this point, the spinnerbait hasn’t attracted more than a small pickerel and two small bass in the first hour of the semi-final round. Still, the veteran pro has been here before, and knows what a change of weather will do to Florida bass. Gradually, the wind will lay and the day will grow warmer. Kenney is saving his better spots for then. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-giants-are-falling-at-toho

Giants are Falling at Toho

Let’s jump right into the details: Wesley Strader caught a 6-pounder and has a limit approaching 20 pounds. He’s the daily leader so far, but he’s got a ways to go to catch Kenney, who has a 4-pounder in his livewell. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-kenney-crushing-the-field

Kenney Crushing the Field

Day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury on Lake Toho saw JT Kenney extend his lead to 12 pounds, 10 ounces over second-place pro Stacey King with a 22-9 limit. Kenney has lived near Toho for some time and prepared meticulously for this event – it appears to be paying off. Fishing in Kissimmee all day, he managed another strong bag on a day when weather changes caused many in the top of the ranks to stumble. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 2

At halftime in the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury, it’s looking like it could be a runaway by tournament leader JT Kenney. Of course, it’s bass fishing and anything can happen, but the latest frontal system rolling through Florida seems to have certainly stymied the bed-fish bonanza that many expected. As a result, the most productive areas from the last two days have been beat down by fishing pressure and are not recovering or replenishing very well. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top finishers managed to overcome challenging conditions on day two to stay at least within striking range of the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-toho-midday-report-day-2

Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-jt-tees-off

JT Tees Off

There was fuel, and there was flame. The fuel was in the form of a delayed largemouth bass spawn on Lake Toho that had been pushed back for several weeks due to low water temperatures and high water flows through the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. The biological clocks of Toho’s bass have been ticking, so to speak. The flame was in the form of a fast warm-up over the last three days, a full moon occurring right now and water temperatures rising nearly 10 degrees in the last 72 hours. At the day-one takeoff of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury this morning, everyone held his breath for the combustion that was about to occur. And when fuel met flame there were a few fiery flare-ups, but not of the size that many expected. In all, the 20-pound mark was reached by seven anglers on a warm, balmy day that had five-alarmer written all over it. Exactly why the bite was not as good as expected is still in question. Many pros reported a vanishing act of bedding bass that had just started to show up during practice, but have now disappeared despite highly favorable conditions At the top of the standings are Florida ace JT Kenney and Missouri veteran Stacey King, who checked in with 29-14 and 28-1, respectively. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-04-episode-67-shane-lehew-and-jt-kenney

Episode 67 - Shane Lehew and JT Kenney

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/tips/2015-02-27-toho-bound

Toho Bound

You have to understand that having home field advantage in fishing is the absolute worst. There are so many demons; you have too much information, you start fishing the lake’s history – it goes on and on and it’s very hard for a professional angler to mentally break that barrier. READ MORE »

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3 Thoughts on Toho

I was without power for three days after the first storm, but it snowed again this weekend and there is supposed to be more weather on the way. Suffice to say, I can’t get to Florida and Lake Toho fast enough. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-24-tour-opener-timed-right-for-florida-spawn-fireworks

Tour Opener Timed Right for Florida Spawn Fireworks

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East to West

As a tournament angler, I realize that a primary aspect of my job is to be able to catch fish anywhere, in all types of fisheries, under a variety of conditions. READ MORE »

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From Swamp Pro to Bass Pro

When most people hear the name “T-Roy Broussard,” they think of me as the Texan in the big green airboat on the reality television show Swamp People. Three years ago I was introduced to households across the world as a burly alligator hunter that made a living off of the land. READ MORE »