COLUMBIA, S.C. – Steve Kennedy may be a well-known Elite Series angler, but he is a father and husband first. Keeping his priorities straight might be the reason for his rise into the unofficial lead in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
“As far as goals in life, I want to win Angler of the Year, win the Classic and become a licensed PE (Professional Engineer),” Kennedy said. “Other than being a good husband and a good father, which is way above the other goals.”
Having two young kids and his wife Julia on the road with him has limited Kennedy’s practice time at most of the events, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt his fishing.
“I have not put much effort into fishing this year and maybe that’s why I’m doing so well,” Kennedy said. “Steve Jr. is only eight months old, so I’ve been spending more time with them than I have on fishing.”
Combine family with a long, exhausting tournament win at West Point and his trend of limited practice continued into the sixth event of the season.
“This week, I only practiced for one day,” Kennedy said. “That (West Point) was the hardest I’ve ever worked and I knew I was going to do it again here. I went home after West Point on Sunday night and planned on cutting the grass the next day, but the lawn mower died halfway through. We finally made it here Tuesday afternoon and I fished Wednesday.”
Less practice didn’t seem to affect his performance on Lake Murray. After Alton Jones stumbled on Day One of the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash and Kennedy came in with 15 pounds, 8 ounces, he was shocked to hear he had moved into the driver’s seat in the year-long race.
“That’s pretty awesome, but you can’t keep those guys down,” Kennedy said. “They are going to catch them tomorrow. They are going to figure something out, I promise you. I’m not falling for this again. I thought I made up some ground last week after I caught 20 pounds on Day One and then VanDam came in with 23 (on Day Two).”
He had West Point dialed in after that from years of past experience on the lake, but didn’t figure out Murray until Thursday afternoon. His approach to the whole year has been the same: a one-two punch with a swimbait and a Kinami Flash.
“I’ve been doing the same thing and have had a bunch of opportunities to win the last few years,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been flirting with the swimbait fish for years. I can’t get off these swimbaits – they are amazing.”
Can he swimbait his way to Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year?
“I can’t do it all the way out, but it works during pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn,” Kennedy said. “We’re fixing to go to the Arkansas River at flood stage and we won’t be doing it there. Probably not on Wheeler either, but you never know. They might be on it.”