(Apr 14, 2016 - Rogers, AR)
For years Beaver Lake has seemed to have pro angler J.T. Kenney’s number. In his previous 13 visits to the northwest Arkansas fishery, Kenney has averaged a finish of 85th place and finished in the money just three times. This week at the Walmart FLW Tour at Beaver Lake presented by Jack Link’s, Kenney’s luck could be turning.
Kenney, of Palm Bay, Florida, caught five largemouth that weighed 18 pounds, 5 ounces to take the lead on day one, ahead of legendary Quaker State pro Jimmy Houston of Cookson, Oklahoma, (17-13) in second place and third-place angler Kurt Mitchell of Milford, Delaware, (17-8) in the four-day event that features 166 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
“I’ve always struggled at Beaver Lake, so this past season I’ve really been trying to learn from (Bryan) Thrift and (Andy) Morgan and the other guys that always seem to do well here,” said Kenney, an eight-time Forrest Wood Cup qualifier. “Every place that I caught them in practice, I purposely avoided today – I fished all new water. The areas that I fished all looked very similar, but this lake changes every day and I’m going to keep moving. ”
Kenney’s stringer was anchored by a 6-pound, 10-ounce largemouth – the second largest bass ever weighed at Beaver Lake in FLW Tour competition.
“I caught the big one early, like 20 to 30 minutes after takeoff,” Kenney said. “I don’t want to name the specific bait yet, but I caught all of my fish today cranking a 6th Sense Lures crankbait. I didn’t catch a whole lot – only 10 all day – but I had a couple of decent ones.”
On a day when many competitors brought in mixed limits of largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and meanmouth bass, Kenney’s limit consisted of five largemouth.
“I knew when I saw the color of the water this week what areas I wanted to fish,” Kenney said. “I didn’t think that I could catch 18 pounds, but I really wouldn’t have if I didn’t have the big 6-pounder. I’m going to keep running new water and not going to fish any place tomorrow that I did today. I know how quickly this lake likes to change, so I’m just going to take it one day at a time.”
The top 10 pros after day one on Beaver Lake are:
1st: J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., five bass, 18-5
2nd: Quaker State pro Jimmy Houston, Cookson, Okla., five bass, 17-13
3rd: Kurt Mitchell, Milford, Del., five bass, 17-8
4th: Buddy Gross, Ringgold, Ga., five bass, 16-11
5th: Rex Huff, Corbin, Ky., five bass, 16-1
6th: Power-Pole pro Darrell Davis, Dover, Fla., five bass, 15-9
6th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 15-9
8th: Keystone Light pro Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, five bass, 15-6
9th: Yamamoto Baits pro Larry Nixon, Bee Branch, Ark., five bass, 15-2
10th: Walmart pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 15-1
Kenney’s huge 6-pound, 10 ounce largemouth earned the Big Bass Award on the pro side Thursday and the $500 prize.
Overall there were 733 bass weighing 1,607 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 164 pros Thursday. The catch included 124 five-bass limits.
Jason Sandidge of Centerton, Arkansas, leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 14 ounces, followed by David Larson of Mound, Minn., in second place with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 15 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers after day one on Beaver Lake are:
1st: Jason Sandidge, Centerton, Arkansas, five bass, 13-14
2nd: David Larson, Mound, Minn., five bass, 12-15
3rd: Mike Devere, Berea, Ky., five bass, 12-9
4th: Teddy Holt, Centerton, Ark., five bass, 12-0
5th: Benjie Seaborn, Guin, Ala., five bass, 11-0
6th: Jeff Campbell, Fayetteville, Ark., five bass, 10-12
7th: Rocky Hopkins, Fayetteville, Ark., four bass, 10-5
7th: Mark Horton, Nicholasville, Ky., five bass, 10-5
9th: Jerry Reagan, Byrdstown, Tenn., five bass, 9-12
10th: Barry Mohon, Beechmont, Ky., four bass, 9-9
Jason Gibson of Byrdstown, Tennessee earned the Big Bass Award on the co-angler side Thursday with a bass weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces to win the $250 prize.
Overall there were 377 bass weighing 648 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 136 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 24 five-bass limits.
In addition to casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division, anglers are also competing for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake.
Anglers will take off from the Prairie Creek Park Marina located at 9300 N. Park Road in Rogers at 6:30 a.m. each day of competition. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at Prairie Creek Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart, located at 2110 W. Walnut St., in Rogers beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Walmart prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a 100-yard Lew’s Casting Lane, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Bentonville Community Lake, located at 2805 West Oak St., in Rogers on Saturday, April 16, from 9-11 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to area youth 15 years of age and younger and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. All bait is provided by the DMF Bait Company.
Coverage of the Beaver Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) September 14 from 1 p.m.-2 p.m. EST. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
The Walmart FLW Tour at Beaver Lake presented by Jack Link’s is being hosted by Visit Rogers.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros