SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Steve Kennedy owes much of his Day Two comeback to a single dock, and he didn't even get to fish it.
Last year Kennedy caught a bunch of fish off the same dock, so on the second day of this year's competition, he decided to take a risk and run down the lake to see if it would produce. Before he could get there, as he was running 65 mph across the lake, a big school of smallmouth bass started schooling around his boat.
"They were going nuts," Kennedy said. "You could see them coming clear out of the water. It was incredible; my first three fish were all over 3 pounds and I kept catching fish after fish."
After the school died down, Kennedy also managed to catch a big largemouth to round out his 17-pound, 4-ounce sack, the third-biggest brought to the scales.
Did he ever reach that magic dock from the year before?
"I finally got down to that dock and they hadn't even put it in the water yet," Kennedy said. "It was still up on the bank from where they had pulled it out in the winter to protect it from ice damage."
Regardless, it was that dock that called him to that part of the lake and placed him squarely in the middle of the school of smallmouth that has him back in contention and fishing on Saturday.
Myers hates Day Two
Last year, Britt Myers looked poised to contend for the win after a monster catch of largemouths on the first day, only to lay a goose egg on the scoreboard the second day and fall out of the money cut altogether.
This year, it wasn't quite as bad, but the result was almost as painful.
After sacking a 15-2 limit yesterday to enter Day Two in 16th place, his fish once again pulled a Friday disappearing act. He didn't blank, but could only muster a 10-4 limit.
"They did exactly what they did last year," Myers said. "I managed to catch three largemouths."
The only thing that saved him was that he had some backup smallmouths that allowed him to salvage a limit in the last hour. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. He dropped 35 places and missed the money by one place in the standings and by a mere three ounces.
Both Day Two leader Chad Griffin and Clark Reehm will have an opportunity to fish again.
Griffin's monster 18-8 limit vaulted him into the lead Friday, and Reehm held on to make it into the cut in 43rd. With the advent of the Marshall program, neither will have an official co-angler in the boat, but the topic of co-anglers was on Reehm's mind at weigh-in.
In June of 2001, Reehm was Griffin's co-angler in a local tournament at Toledo Bend.
"He was dropshotting a bridge when I knew there was a good jig bite in the grass," Reehm recalled.
Little did he know at the time that dropshotting would become a popular tactic down there in bubba-land. They'd run into each other since then, but haven't fished together again.
That one day aside, Reehm said his luck at the pairings meetings was typically poor: "I never got any good draws. That's why I stopped being a co-angler," he said.
The rich get richer
On the strength of a 17-4 Day Two limit, Greg Hackney vaulted from 37th place to fifth. He entered the tournament 26th place in the TTBAOY, and if he can continue this pace he will move up even further. Hackney also won a cool half-million dollars last week in Pittsburgh.
Did the check (already cashed) help him to relax?
"To be really honest, it's a shame everyone can't fish like that at least once," he said, noting that he entered this practice as relaxed as he's ever been.
"Look at the top three guys in the Angler of the Year race," he continued. "What do they all have in common? They've all won $500,000 or more in the last two years."
Day Two Quotes
"It's hard to make the top 12 here without at least one 4-pound largemouth."
"The walleye are biting real well."
"I burned the midnight oil in practice."
—James Niggemeyer, who entered the tournament in 31st place in the TTBAOY race and made the cut at Oneida in 40th place.
"This is shallow water heaven."
—Bernie Schultz, currently second with 32-3.
"I'm not fishing history. The places I'm fishing this week are places that I found on Tuesday."
—Jason Quinn, third with 31-12.
"I am officially surrendering for the season."
—Kenyon Hill, 94th with 21-2.
"Snow should be a destination, not a situation."
—Kenyon Hill, on why he loves to visit New York but will never live here.
"When I left here last year, I almost felt stupid. I should've caught them. You catch them shallow and by covering a lot of water."
—Brian Clark, currently 18th, who finished 101st here in 2008.