FLORENCE, Ala. – After dominating the EverStart Series Southeast Division points race this season, pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., continued his leading ways today by taking an early lead in the EverStart Series Championship on Pickwick Lake with four bass weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces.
“I started the day on Wilson (Lake), fishing deep,” Kennedy said. “But it wasn’t working out like I wanted, so I locked back into Pickwick at about 11:30, and I started fishing shallow.”
Kennedy didn’t have a keeper when he locked down, but after changing his game plan, things began to click.
“It was weird,” he said. “I had a lot more bites when the current was on, but for some reason, I couldn’t get a hook in them. I missed the first five bites I had down here (Pickwick). When the current shut off this afternoon, I finally started catching them, but the number of bites fell off.”
Kennedy says he plans to permanently abandon his deep fish on Wilson and stay in Pickwick all day tomorrow.
Lefebre spent most of his practice time on Wilson and had planned to fish there until he discovered something special on Pickwick.
“Yesterday, the FOX television crew wanted to film a little deal with me,” Lefebre recounted. “After filming the bit, I went back out on the water just to see if I could find something close by to fish after I locked back down each day. Well, I got to fooling around, and I think I may have stumbled across the mother lode.”
Due to the way Lefebre is fishing, he’s having trouble keeping the fish on the hook.
“I had several other big ones on today, which would have pushed my stringer over 20 pounds,” he said. “I’m fishing really heavy jigs on light line in current. There’s so much bow in the line, it’s hard to get a hook in the fish, and they’re jumping off.”
“I’m going all the way down to Bay Springs Lake in Mississippi,” Green said. “It’s a whole different lake down there – deep, clear and full of big spotted bass. I like fishing that way, so I decided to commit to that area. I only have about four hours of fishing time, but I feel more confident down there.”
Unlike the other leaders who are fishing current-oriented areas, Green says current isn’t a factor for him.
“I’m fishing pretty deep,” he added. “At times, I’m fishing 15 to 20 feet deep.”
Jonathan Newton of nearby Rogersville, Ala., is no stranger to winning EverStart tournaments on Pickwick Lake. He won a Central Division tourney here in March 2003, and he has put himself in position to do it again this week with five bass weighing 12 pounds, 1 ounce for fourth place.
After losing an hour to a fog delay this morning, Newton gambled on a long run-and-lock game plan that took him to Wheeler Lake – and it paid off.
“I only had about three hours to fish,” Newton said. “I’m flipping a couple of small stretches of bank up there, and I don’t have a lot of time to move around.”
The next big gamble Newton is contemplating is staying on Pickwick tomorrow with hopes of saving his best water on Wheeler for the finals.
“If I could sneak into the finals on Pickwick tomorrow, I could let the water on Wheeler rest for a day,” he said. “But the last time I tried that strategy in the FLW here, it came back and bit me.”
While other anglers are making long runs to their areas, Webber is making a 40-minute idle to his best spot.
“I tried to run in there in practice, and I hit a stump,” Webber said. “I committed to idling the whole way in, and it takes at least 40 minutes to get to the best stuff.
“I really have no idea what kind of potential the place has,” he continued. “My partner (who is leading the Co-angler Division) and I got in there and caught them quick and left. I don’t know if there are a hundred fish in there or one, but I’m going to find out tomorrow.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros in the EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake:
6th: Lloyd Pickett Jr. of Bartlett, Tenn., four bass, 10-14
7th: Art Garza of Buna, Texas, five bass, 10-11
8th: Kota Kiriyama of Moody, Ala., five bass, 10-10
9th: Matt Herren of Trussville, Ala., three bass, 10-3
10th: Scott Nielsen of Salt Lake City, five bass, 9-7
Guin leads co-anglers
Guin fished with fifth-place pro Mike Webber and had the kind of day co-anglers dream about.
“We just had a great day,” Guin said. “We got back into this place, he caught a limit and I caught three good fish on crankbaits and soft plastics.”
Rick Turner of Tyler, Texas, turned in the Co-angler Division big bass of the day – 4 pounds, 15 ounces – which gave him a two-fish total of 7 pounds, 11 ounces for second place.
Co-anglers George Miller of Springfield, Pa., and Gene Purdy of Bentonville, Ark., are tied for third at 6 pounds, 11 ounces.
Arch Cornett of Huntsville, Ala., holds down the fifth position in the Co-angler Division with 6 pounds, 8 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the EverStart Championship on Pickwick Lake:
6th: Christopher Hall of Clarks Summit, Pa., two bass, 5-15
7th: James Chapman of Cedartown, Ga., two bass, 5-9
8th: Brian Mlekush of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., two bass, 5-8
9th: Paul Bailey of Agoura Hills, Calif., three bass, 5-5
10th: Mike Drain of Purcell, Okla., two bass, 4-15
Day-two competition resumes Thursday at 7 a.m. at McFarland Park in Florence, Alabama.