COLUMBIA, S.C. — “I sucked,” Steve Kennedy said upon exiting the stage after Day Two. Though brutally honest, those two words summed up his performance today in which he only caught two fish that weighed 2-9, putting him in 60th place and out of the first cut. With Alton Jones and Kevin VanDam stumbling on Day One, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year door was opened for Kennedy to capitalize on, which he did. But his poor performance on Day Two dropped him right back down the standings.
Though he’s down at the moment, don’t count him out of the AOY race. He’s fishing well and is looking to climb back into the chase.
“You know, I’ve got three goals: Win the Classic, win Angler of the Year and get my PE (professional engineering) thing, and I may or may not pursue that,” he said.
At this stage, you can bet on him gunning for the 2011 Angler of the Year title. But, he needs to pull the nose up on his season before he crashes and burns.
Kennedy’s problem today was that he could not connect with the fish that were looking at, nudging and nibbling his bait. He estimates that he saw at least 100 fish in Lake Murray today. He carried his approach to West Point Lake over to Murray: lobbing a swimbait then following it up with a Kinami Flash.
“I just couldn’t get bites today; they were pecking at it. They’d bump the swimbait, and I’d throw a Flash back in there, and they would eat it, but I wouldn’t catch ‘em!” he said.
The other thing that’s carried over from West Point — and the entire 2011 season — is his relaxed pace. He’s practiced a day and a half for most events, but not out of laziness. His reason for short practices is that he has two very young children at home with his wife, Julia. Also, he doesn’t want to get “locked in” to a pattern in practice that may not work when the tournament begins.
“I’m trying to keep my priorities right, and I’ve been fishing well doing it, too,” he said. “I’ve kind of gotten into this routine, so it’s hard for me to get more than a day and a half of practice.”
The final two events, however, demand as much practice as possible. Kennedy says that success on the Arkansas River — if the levels recede and it becomes fishable — depends on being in the right backwater. He also says that Lake Wheeler requires time on the water to find fish, whereas in the previous tournaments all he had to do “was look in the water, and they’d be swimming everywhere.”
A bad beat today has Kennedy hopeful, but not optimistic, about his chances of accomplishing one of his three goals: Angler of the Year.
“I was looking for (KVD and Alton Jones) to stumble, and for me to have a good day and stay in the lead. I thought I’d catch 7 or 8 pounds. Typically this year, I’d have good days, and I’d have off days, that’s just part of how I’ve been fishing,” he said. “I’ve been able to catch these fish when the other guys couldn’t, but today they got me.”