With a combined weight of 53 pounds, 0 ounces for the first two days, Kennedy’s slim lead held off two challengers: Scott Campbell of Springfield, Mo., and two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gary Klein, who tied for second with 52-7.
With 52-1, 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Mike Iaconelli moved up from ninth to fourth. Three-time Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam captured fifth place with 51-0.
The 2007 Elite event pays a total purse of $673,150 to the top 50 pros, including a $100,000 first prize. Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action on The Bassmasters on Saturday March 17 at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
The first-day leader, Kennedy wasn’t able on Friday to duplicate his Thursday success with a swimbait, a new type of lure for him.
“I just didn’t get the big bites that I did yesterday with the swimbait,” said Kennedy, who was the 2006 Toyota Rookie of the Year. “I have absolutely no game plan for tomorrow. I just hope the fish move up shallow so I have a chance.”
With the field cut to the top 50 for Saturday’s round, the pros are trying to figure out the changing fishery of Amistad, especially how to track bass in the rapidly rising water temperatures.
Though Campbell managed to stay in second, his Friday catch was 19 pounds, 9 ounces below his Thursday bag. His struggles were similar to Kennedy’s in that both relied on a swimbait to entice bigger bass.
“I caught a big fish first thing in the morning and I really felt it was going to be a similar day to yesterday,” the 24-year-old said. “But the wind didn’t blow enough and the water temperatures are rising, causing the fish to move in shallow.”
Klein was more consistent. The Weatherford, Texas, pro targeted deep fish for his two daily limits, each over 25 pounds.
“I feel like I could be sitting at 60 pounds but I blew some opportunities,” the 49-year-old said. “My bite is going away a little, so I think I will have to run all new water tomorrow and fish shallow.”
Other anglers who finished above the 50th-place cutline included 1999 Bassmaster Classic champ Davy Hite in 11th with 48-0; Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Matthew Sphar in 23rd with 43-10; and 2006 “Battle on the Border” champion Ish Monroe who with 43-3 sat in 26th place.
Leading the co-angler division was Texan David Stewart with 37 pounds, 13 ounces. He held off fellow Texan Dennis Lala, who had 35-8, and New Mexico’s Franco Vallejos, in third with 35-3.
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For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.