BENTON, Ky. (May 17, 2003) - Pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., collected $100,000 cash Saturday on Kentucky and Barkley lakes as winner of the four-day, $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour event presented by Energizer. Kennedy caught 10 bass over two days that weighed 44 pounds, 14 ounces to score his first FLW Tour win by a 10-pound, 1-ounce margin.
Kennedy finished the two-day opening round in sixth place to advance to Friday's competition, where he finished first with a five-bass catch weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounce. He added another five bass Saturday that weighed 21 pounds, 13 ounces to remain in first place and secure his spot in the winner's circle by the widest margin all season. Appropriately enough, Kennedy claimed victory in the boat of presenting sponsor Energizer.
Rain that pounded the lakes overnight continued to fall intermittently Saturday, adding even more water to the already flooded reservoirs. Rising water failed to hamper Kentucky Lake fishing, however, as Kennedy stumbled upon a mother lode Friday and milked it again Saturday for another 20-plus-pound sack of bass.
"I practiced for a week and never caught a 4-pounder, but the last four days have been the best tournament days of my life," said Kennedy, who caught his bass on a Carolina-rigged green pumpkin Senko while fishing a flat in 8 to 10 feet of water. "I hammered that hole for two days, and I'm really surprised at what I got out of it. This is just icing on the cake."
The Kennedy family is no stranger to Kentucky Lake. Kennedy's father, Van, a 20-year FLW Outdoors competitor, was a contender in the 1983 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American on the reservoir.
Kennedy began his FLW Outdoors career in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and has appeared in the All-American twice, finishing third in 2002. He racked up five BFL tournament wins in four years in three different divisions. In 2000, he added EverStart Series events to his schedule and is currently ranked third in the Eastern Division points standings. This is his second season on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, where his previous best finish was a 16th-place effort on Lake Okeechobee. With his $100,000 win Saturday, Kennedy's career FLW Outdoors earnings now approach the $200,000 mark.
If it weren't for co-angler Ralph Wilson, Kennedy might have never found his lucrative honeyhole. "I fished with Ralph, who finished fifth on the co-angler side," Kennedy said. "We kind of butted heads because he wanted to drag the ledges, and I wanted to fish the bushes. I don't think either one of us had any idea how many fish were out there. You had to wade through the first 70 or 80 fish to get to the big ones. It's been an incredible week."
Rounding out the top five pros are Davy Hite of Prosperity, S.C. (10 bass, 34 pounds, 13 ounces, $35,000); Tom Monsoor of La Crosse, Wis. (10 bass, 29 pounds, 11 ounces, $20,000); Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla. (10 bass, 29 pounds, 7 ounces, $16,000); and Jeffrey Thomas of Broadway, N.C. (10 bass, 26 pounds, 1 ounce, $14,000).
Ryan Chandler of Hobart, Ind., claimed $15,000 Friday as the co-angler winner thanks to a five-bass catch weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces. He also earned a $500 Wal-Mart gift card from Castrol and $500 worth of Castrol products for the win.
Surman won a $500 Wal-Mart gift card plus a selection of Stanley tools as the winner of the Stanley Accuracy Cast Award, which goes to the angler who pitches a jig closest to a specified target.
Local pro and Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year points leader Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., retained his position atop the points standings despite finishing 55th on Kentucky Lake. His nearest challenger, David Dudley of Manteo, N.C., finished 30th to hold on to the No. 2 spot in angler standings. Morehead entered the Kentucky Lake event with a 51-point lead over Dudley and leaves with the lead whittled to 26 with one event left on the schedule.
One hundred and seventy-five pros and 175 co-anglers kicked off the tournament from Kentucky Dam Marina in Gilbertsville Wednesday and competed for two days for one of 10 final-round spots in their respective divisions. The Kentucky Lake event is the fifth of six regular-season Wal-Mart FLW Tour events that lead to the $1.5 million Jacobs Cup on the James River in Richmond, Va., Sept. 10-13. The road to Richmond, Va., is indeed paved with gold, as the Jacobs Cup champion will collect $500,000, the largest guaranteed cash award in bass-fishing history.
Coverage of the Kentucky Lake tournament will be broadcast to 55 million Outdoor Life Network subscribers on "FLW Outdoors," featuring fishing legends Hank Parker and Larry Nixon alongside hosts Charlie Evans, Carlton Wing and Taylor Carr. A tournament preview featuring Parker will air Sunday at noon CST. Tournament highlights from Kentucky Lake will air May 24 and 25 followed by a tournament recap featuring Nixon May 31 and June 1.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour will visit Wheeler Lake in Florence, Ala., June 18-21 for its sixth and final regular-season tournament, the $1 million Forrest Wood Open. The winning pro at the Forrest Wood Open will collect $200,000 cash.
The Wal-Mart FLW Tour features a pro/co-angler format in which the pro supplies the boat, fishes from the front deck against other pros and controls boat movement. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. Every angler who receives weight credit in a tournament earns points, with 200 points awarded to the winner, 199 points for second, 198 for third, and so on. These points determine angler standings, and the top 48 pros and 48 co-anglers following the regular season advance to the $1.5 million Jacobs Cup.
Wal-Mart and many of America's most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its six tournament trails. Wal-Mart has been the title sponsor of FLW Outdoors since 1997. For a complete list of FLW Outdoors sponsors and for more information about the premier products and services they offer, please visit FLWOutdoors.com.
FLW Outdoors and the Wal-Mart FLW Tour are named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood.