Both men specialize in open-water ledge fishing, which turned out to be a crucial advantage this week. In the end, however, it came down to a last-minute catch and a costly penalty that gave Kennedy his second $100,000 FLW Tour victory on the lake.
To claim the win, Kennedy had to overcome a 4-pound, 10-ounce lead that Bolton established Friday. He did just that with a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday that pushed his two-day total weight to 37 pounds, 5 ounces.
He caught all of his fish on ledges in 17 to 23 feet of water using a 3/4-ounce brown and purple football-head jig laced with a Kinami double-tail grub.
"Three of the five fish I weighed came off the same spot this morning," Kennedy said. By the afternoon, I was culling 3 1/2-pound fish. They just kept coming and coming."
His most critical catch of the day was a nearly 5-pound smallmouth that he caught with only five minutes left in the tournament. That fish, combined Bolton's 8-ounce penalty for an expired fish, gave Kennedy the win by a razor thin 4 ounces.
"Knowing (Terry) caught more than I did is a little tough to swallow," Kennedy said. "But when you catch fish deep, sometimes, they don't adjust so well."
Bolton led the tournament Friday with five bass weighing 20 pounds, 9 ounces and then added five more bass weighing 16 pounds, 8 ounces Saturday for a two-day total of 37 pounds, 1 ounce. If not for having an expired fish, his total weight would have been 37 pounds, 9 ounces - good for a 4-ounce victory instead of a 4-ounce defeat.
"That fish was hooked perfectly, right in the top of the mouth, and I did everything I could to keep it alive. It was the only fish I lost all week," said Bolton, who won $36,000 for his second-place finish. "It just wasn't my time to win."
Like Kennedy, Bolton fished jigs. He was also casting spinnerbaits and worms. Using his local knowledge of Kentucky Lake he was able to rotate through a series of holes to pick up solid five-bass limits all week.
"Things were going well for me," he said. "What really hurt was losing a 6 1/2- to 7-pound bass right at the boat, but when you use big jigs, it's real easy for the fish to throw them. I guess if you think about it, I lost this tournament twice."
Rounding out the top five pros are Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas (10 bass, 30 pounds, $25,000); Chevy pro David Fritts of Lexington, N.C. (10 bass, 29 pounds, 4 ounces, $20,000) and Curt Lytle of Zuni, Va. (10 bass, 27 pounds, 8 ounces $18,000).
In FLW Tour competition the full field competes in the two-day opening round for one of 10 slots in Friday's competition based on their two-day accumulated weight. Weights are cleared for day three, and co-angler competition concludes following Friday's weigh-in. The top 10 pros continue competition Saturday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from days three and four.
This is the most lucrative FLW Tour season to date with a $7.6 million purse, including four $900,000 events and two $1.25 million open events during the regular season. Each event leads up to the $1.5 million Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship and Outdoor Show presented by Castrol, which will be held Aug. 2-5 on Logan Martin Lake in Birmingham, Ala. The prestigious championship hosted by Birmingham, Pell City and St. Clair County features 48 pros, 48 co-anglers and bass fishing's largest guaranteed cash award - a $500,000 first-place prize for the winning pro. Held in conjunction with the tournament is a world-class outdoor show featuring more than 140 exhibits.
Coverage of the Kentucky Lake tournament will be broadcast to 81 million FSN (Fox Sports Net) subscribers in the United States on June 25 and July 2 as part of the "FLW Outdoors" television program. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sunday mornings at 11 Eastern time. "FLW Outdoors" is also broadcast internationally to more than 350 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network.
Kellogg's will present the sixth and final stop of the FLW Tour's regular season on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, N.Y., June 21-24.
Named after the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, Forrest L. Wood, FLW Outdoors administers the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Series, Stren Series, Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League, Wal-Mart Texas Tournament Trail presented by Abu Garcia, Stratos Owners' Tournament Trail, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Walleye League, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series and Wal-Mart FLW Striper Series. These circuits offer combined purses exceeding $37.9 million through 249 events in 2006.
For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournament programs, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.
Wal-Mart and many of America's largest and most respected companies support FLW Outdoors and its tournament trails. Wal-Mart signed on as an FLW Outdoors sponsor in 1997 and today is the world's leading supporter of tournament fishing. For more information about Wal-Mart, visit Wal-Mart.com.