UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Hot-hand Kenney tops 40 pounds, leads pros at Toho

Hot-hand Kenney tops 40 pounds, leads pros at Toho
Co-angler Richard Lowitzki of St. Charles, Ill., caught this 11-pound, 3-ounce largemouth Thursday at Toho. The fish ranks as the second-heaviest bass in FLW Tour history.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – J.T. Kenney continued his tear through Florida Thursday when he caught yet another solid five-bass limit in Wal-Mart FLW Tour competition and held onto the Pro Division lead heading into the cut at Lake Toho with a two-day, opening-round weight of 40 pounds, 15 ounces.

While he didn’t land any eye-poppers like the 9-pound kicker largemouth that he caught Wednesday, Kenney reeled in five good fish weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces Thursday. He established a more than 3 ½-pound lead over second-place Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga.

“It makes me feel like I caught too many,” Kenney said about leading the opening round.

Still, in a sport where competitive sandbagging is an art form, the pro from Frostburg, Md., didn’t seem too bothered by his dominant performance in the early round. Perhaps it’s because he’s fishing comfortably in his adopted home state of Florida or maybe it’s just because he knows that he’s sitting on a lot of big fish this week, but Thursday afternoon the leader wasn’t sweating the next two days of competition – competition where anglers are catching a whole lot of huge fish.

“I’ve been fishing a lot fewer tournaments this year – just FLWs and EverStarts – so I don’t feel the pressure to run around and get ready for the next one,” he said. “I have one rod that I'm using; I’m living and dying by the flipping stick. I really believe this tournament will be won in that thick grass, and I have two spots that I haven’t even been to yet.”

Kenney’s day-two game plan mirrored what he did on day one. He started the day south on the Kissimmee River working his area of thick grass mats by flipping a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver. He only caught a single 2-pounder on his first spot, then moved to another spot and caught two more bigger ones. At his third spot he filled out his limit, fired up his motor and headed back up to Lake Toho, where he caught one stray culling fish. Pro J.T. Kenney of Frostburg, Md., retained his lead Thursday in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop on Lake Toho with a solid five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces. He caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 40 pounds, 15 ounces in the opening round.

“Once I had five, I wanted to get back up into this lake (Toho) and mess around,” he said.

Obviously, the keys to Kenney’s kingdom right now are his grassy spots holding those big, staging, prespawn bass on Kissimmee. While Thursday’s cooler, windy weather might have blown a few pros off their stride, Kenney said the conditions didn't really matter for his fish.

“The only thing that would hurt my fish is if they went up to spawn,” he said. “In the cold, they might not want to bite as well, but they’re also not going to spawn. So they’re not going anywhere.”

His confidence in his locations belied what happened to Chad Grigsby and Bobby Lane Thursday, the other two prongs of the Florida power trio who climbed atop the leaderboard on day one with similar fishing patterns. While Grigsby failed to catch a limit and missed the cut, Lane’s catch weight dropped dramatically and he made it only by virtue of his big sack on day one.

So does Kenney have enough fish to maintain pace and close out his second FLW victory this week?

“I don’t think any of my spots are loaded up like glory holes or anything,” he said. “But with six or seven spots, I think I can run around and get some good fish.” Pro Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., ascended to second place with an opening-round weight of 37 pounds, 5 ounces. This kicker bass weighed over 8 pounds.

Mann climbs to second

After a seventh-place showing on day one, Mann ascended to second place with an opening-round weight of 37 pounds, 5 ounces.

He landed another big kicker in the 8-pound range Thursday and hinted that he has a magic bullet for catching them in Florida.

“In four tournaments that we’ve been here (FLW and BASS), this is the fifth or sixth fish over 8 pounds that I’ve caught on a Senko,” he said, adding that he’s relying on a watermelon with black-and-red flake color scheme.

However, with heavier winds Thursday, Mann couldn’t rely solely on the finesse-fishing Senko. Fishing shallow grass along about a 500-yard stretch on the Kissimmee River, he caught the rest of his fish on a spinnerbait and a worm. But he plans on returning to the Senko Friday.

“If the wind doesn’t blow, that’s probably all I will throw tomorrow,” he said.

Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., moved from fifth place to third in the Pro Division with an opening-round weight of 34 pounds, 12 ounces.Hibdon third

Dion Hibdon of Stover, Mo., also climbed the leaderboard, moving from fifth place to third in the Pro Division with an opening-round weight of 34 pounds, 12 ounces.

“I’m fishing shallow with a worm and I’m just fishing around,” he said.

Hartsell fourth

Competing in just his second FLW tournament, pro Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, claimed the fourth spot with an opening-round total of 33 pounds, 13 ounces.

“I’ve got one little ol’ pocket down on South Kissimmee, but it’s getting harder to catch them. I’ve caught three 7-pounders out of this pocket and lost two of them,” he said. “All you can do is hope to catch enough bites to compensate for the ones you lost. It’s probably going to take a tremendous amount of weight to win this thing.”

Pugh fifth

Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., placed fifth for the pros with an opening-round weight of 30 pounds, 1 ounce. 

Lewis Denney of Indian Mound, Tenn., earned the day's Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division with this 10-pound largemouth.Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros to make the cut at Lake Toho:

6th: Lane, of Lakeland, Fla., 29-1

7th: Warren Wyman of Calera, Ala., 28-0

8th: Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., 27-6

9th: Art Berry of Hemet, Calif., 27-5

10th: Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., 27-1

Lewis Denney of Indian Mound, Tenn., earned the day’s Snickers Big Bass award in the Pro Division with a 10-pound largemouth.

Lowitzki makes history, leads co-anglers

Tied for last place coming into the day after catching no keeper bass Wednesday in the Co-angler Division, Richard Lowitzki of St. Charles, Ill., not only caught the heaviest sack in either division Thursday, he caught the second-heaviest fish ever to cross the scale in FLW competition.

Fishing a spinnerbait out of the back of pro Bobby Lanham’s boat near some lily pads, Lowitzki hooked into a largemouth that weighed in at 11 pounds, 3 ounces. The monster bass surpassed the 11-pounder caught by Bobby Curtis on Lake Okeechobee last month and the 11-pounder caught by Ray Beck on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in 1998. In the FLW, only the 11-pound, 14-ounce bass caught by Jim Nolan on the Santee Cooper lakes in 1996 was heavier.

Richard Lowitzki caught this 11-pound, 3-ounce largemouth on a Hildebrandt spinnerbait.“That fish hit the spinnerbait, jumped two feet out of the water and scared the living daylights out of me,” said Lowitzki, who vaulted atop the leaderboard with an opening-round total of 22 pounds, 6 ounces – all caught Thursday in a four-bass stringer. “I already had three fish and the next fish was that big one. After I caught it, I just said, ‘You know what? I’m done for the day.’”

Obviously, Lowitzki won the Snickers Big Bass award for the day and now leads the Big Bass of the Year competition.

Coming in second for the co-anglers was Kenneth Chapman of Woodlawn, Tenn., with an opening-round total of 22 pounds, 4 ounces.

Co-angler Rob Newell of Tallahassee, Fla., second on day one, placed third in the opening round with a weight of 22 pounds even. Newell, a contributing writer for FLW Outdoors communications, said he looked forward to finishing an FLW tournament in a different capacity for a change – in action on the water.

“Tomorrow I’m going to leave the pen and camera in the hotel room, and I’m not going to miss them one bit,” he said.

Judy Israel of Clewiston, Fla., claimed the fourth spot for the co-anglers with a weight of 21 pounds, 10 ounces.

Fifth place went to Bill Rogers of Jasper, Texas, for 20 pounds, 12 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers to make the cut at Lake Toho:

6th: Tim Peek of Sharpsburg, Ga., 20-11

7th: Trevor Jancasz of White Pigeon, Mich., 20-1

8th: John Barrett of Fayetteville, N.C., 18-12

9th: Merle Wells Jr. of Hammond, N.Y., 18-3

10th: David Brunaugh of Carbondale, Ill., 18-1

Day three of FLW Tour competition at Lake Toho begins as the 10 pros and 10 co-anglers take off from Kissimmee Lakefront Park at 7 a.m. Eastern time Friday for the second half of competition. The co-anglers will wrap up competition tomorrow while the pros are fishing the first half of a two-day final round.

Tags: jt-kenney  flipping  reaction-innovations  prespawn  lake-toho  lake-kissimmee  jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2005-02-09-lake-toho 

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