UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Day 2 Practice with JT Kenney

A quick glance at the trends in the Members Advantage section of FantasyFishing.com and you’ll see several Floridians among the top picks of players for the upcoming FLW Tour event on the Harris Chain. One of the most heavily picked pros is none other than JT Kenney. So, with that in mind I decided to jump in the boat with Kenney on the second day of practice to see just how he is approaching this vast Florida fishery.

 

The day starts a little before 7 a.m. at the boat ramp on the south end of Lake Griffin. I pull up to the ramp only to see Kenney buried deep in the back of his truck rooting through boxes of different tackle. After he picks a few lucky boxes we are off to the boat.

JT had dumped his boat in the water earlier and let it float to the other side of the canal – a common practice for pros who practice single – so we bummed a ride off of Joe Holland who was kind enough to motor us over.

Once we make it to Kenney’s Ranger he puts two of the boxes away, but keeps the third out to rummage through a bit. It contains several shallow-running crankbaits, including a bunch of old wood baits. He plucks one that feel right, ties it on and we we’re off and running.

 

Kenney is in no rush to make it to his starting area as evidenced by the nice 40 mile-per-hour pace he sets to begin with. It not only is better for fuel mileage, in turn saving some cash, but also seems to be how this veteran likes to roll and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Being from Florida a lot of people think Kenney has fished here several times, but in fact the opposite is true.

“I think today is about my fifth day ever on the Harris Chain,” Kenney says. “I fished the B.A.S.S. Open back in January and that was about it and I only did that for a little extra time out here. I guess I just haven’t really had a reason to fish this place.”

 

We make it to the first spot on the north end of Griffin where Kenney starts throwing the small plug he tied on earlier. He makes about 10 solid casts with it before digging out another three rods.

“I like this crankbait, but it really isn’t touching the grass how I want it to,” says Kenney. “These grass flats are so big that you need a few different things to be able to cover them efficiently.”

Not even five casts later he boats a nice keeper. After dropping the Power-Poles he probes the area looking for a school of fish to go with it, but to no avail.

 

The wind is supposed to blow fairly stout out of the east today. Noting that it was semi-calm so far, Kenney decides to run to the west bank before the wind gets up to try an area out we passed by on our morning drive.

On his first cast he catches a little guy on a lipless crankbait. Again, he makes several more casts looking for some friends with no luck. So, Kenney kicks the trolling motor on high and off we go.

 

Several hundred yards later down the same bank Kenney tags another fish on the lipless crankbait.

“There was no doubt about the fact that was a bite when he hit it,” laughs Kenney. “He crushed it. It was like, ‘donk!’”

He pulls the trolling motor up not long after releasing the bass and we move out in the main lake a little more to another grass flat.

 

Kenney almost immediately hooks up after moving locations, though he isn’t sure what it is. Upon further inspection, he discovers it is some old fishing line his bait latched on to. Kenney frees his bait and discards the old line and gets back to work.

The wind has picked up more at this point and Kenney makes controlled drifts with the trolling motor to efficiently cover the flat. There is no shortage of other boat traffic in the area, from local crappie anglers to Tour pros.

 

We move again back to where we started the day and Kenney’s phone rings not long after he begins fishing. It’s none other than Bryan Thrift, who is rooming with Kenney for most of the Tour season. The two chat about how fishing has been and a little bit about their opinions of the other lakes on the Harris Chain before hanging up to get back to work.

Kenney picks up a spinnerbait to cover this large expanse of grass in the wind and is rewarded with a small bass. He drops the Power-Poles and fires another cast and hooks up again. Though they aren’t the tournament-winning fish, he drops a waypoint on the Lowrance just in case.

Recently, Kenney has developed a knack for not doing so well on day one of the tournament, but rallying on day two.

“Over the last year or so I have been doing pretty bad the first day of the tournament but seem to catch them pretty good on the second,” Kenney explains. “It’s almost like I have to figure the fish out again during the first day of the tournament because I haven’t been expanding on things in practice enough. Like I’ll get a bite in practice and just keep going, not knowing if there were more fish there or not. A lot of times it is a random bite that I put hope in, and sometimes it is something more. That is why I don’t get to see that until I spend some time on certain places during the tournament and finally piece everything together. I’m working on that, though.”

 

Kenney finally gets tired of fighting the wind, so we crank up and roll to a bank protected by the wind to take a snack break. One of his favorite boat snacks is sliced ham and turkey he eats straight out of the package. He also has some leftover chicken for later in the day if he really gets hungry.

So far the Florida pro has put most of his effort into the grass bite off the bank, but figures he better keep some shallow fish honest. He whips out a box of soft plastic stickbaits, grabs a green pumpkin-colored one and gets to flipping shallow pads and cattails.

After spending about 30 minutes flipping with just one potential bite we fire up the big motor again and start to cruise the east side of the lake.

 

Kenney originally started the day with one rod on the deck and now is up to about eight. They are mostly comprised of moving baits, though some soft plastics are in there for good measure. A row of docks is the next destination.

“I don’t really think I’ll fish any docks in the tournament, but it can’t hurt to look,” Kenney says.

 

On his second flip under the dock, Kenney hooks up. It isn’t huge, but could be a nice addition to a tournament limit.

Even after catching one, Kenney only skips about two more docks and decides to move on. Fishing docks isn’t really his deal – I’m convinced he just did it to try and swing on some fish for fun and I can’t blame him.

It is nearing 1 o’clock and time for me to get off the water. Kenney poles down quickly to retie his rig and then we proceed back to the ramp.

 

As I hop off Kenney’s Ranger he eases back out in the channel to run around some more on Lake Griffin. He has found a few areas that he wants to expand on a little more before the day is up. The winning fish could still be out there, and he is determined to find a magic spot that could carry him to another $125,000 payday in Florida. 

Tags: harris-chain  jt-kenney  kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2017-03-09-harris-chain 

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