One of the most
enjoyable things I get to do is interview some
of the biggest names in the sport of competitive
bass fishing. Over the years, I have had the
privilege of interviewing industry giants that
were and still are household names. If I may be
so bold as to name drop, here are a few of them:
Forrest Wood, Guido Hibdon, Gary Clouse, Chris
Lane (twice), and Kotoro Kiryama, Caleb Kuphal
and Brennon McCord. It always amazes me how
down to earth these super stars really are when
you get to know them a little better. Recently I
had the fortuitous opportunity and distinct
honor to spend a few minutes chatting with
BASSMASTER Elite Series Pro, Steve Kennedy. I
happen to bump into Steve at a recent event and
he graciously consented to do an interview.
But first allow me to set
the stage with this Alabama nativeís
accomplishments to date: It would be remiss of
me if I didnít mention Steveís alma mater,
Auburn University. Steve is a proud alumnus of
Auburn University as is indicative of his
ever-present Auburn hat, and tiger image boat
Steve dominated the BFLs in
his early career. He had been fishing as a
non-boater until FLW went to the Pro/Co format.
He was forced to fish as a boater in the year
2000 because the non-boater positions were all
filled. From 2000 to 2001 he scored nine top 10
finishes, Including four BFL wins. He won the
Neely Henry Super Tournament in Sept. 2000 and
then won the Lake Seminole tournament in Jan/Feb
of 2001. He scored back to back wins on Neely
Henry and Lake Sinclair one week apart, in Sept.
2001 and qualified for his second All-American.
Steve accomplished all of this fishing out of an
aluminum, boat. Steve and his wife Julia have
two children. Sophia and SJ.
Here are the stats:
164 events fished
9 Classic Qualifications
119 times in the money
3 1st place finishes
3 2nd place finishes
6 3rd place finishes
29 top 10 finishes
54 top 30 finishes
70 top 30 finishes
Steveís career earnings to date are over the $3
million mark and still climbing.
AC: First, thank you for
taking the time to do this interview. Can you
tell me a little bit about how you got started
SK: I started fishing with my dad and we won my
first tournament when I was three years old. Dad
was good enough to be a Professional Angler when
I was growing up. He was a local legend. He
dominated the local tournaments and qualified to
fish the Bassmasters Classic in 1982. When I was
growing up dad fished every weekend as he
prepared for the next tournament. Mom worked
most weekends, so my brother and I didnít have a
choice but to spend hours and hours in the boat
with dad. For sure Dad is the reason I got
AC: Iíve read that you
donít consider yourself to be a competitive
person. Is that accurate?
SK: ďWell not exactly. I am competitive, I mean
you have to be at this level, but Iím not
competitive to the point of being cut-throat
about it. I try to do everything the right way.Ē
AC: You are one of the few
professional anglers to repeat catching more
than one hundred pounds of bass during an elite
series event. You have done it three times In
2006 you had 104lbs 2oz at Santee Cooper. In
2007 you had 122lbs 14 oz at Clear Lake
California and in 2007 you caught 101lbs 10 oz
at Lake Amistad. What most people might not
know is that you almost did it twice at Amistad,
when in 2006 you had 97lbs and 3 oz.
SK: Thatís true. I was within 3lbs of doing it
at Amistad that year. I think I had a 37lb bag
there on one day and two weeks later I went to
Clear Lake and had a 40lb bag. And finished that
tournament with over 122lbs. That record stood
until Paul Elias beat it. A lot of people donít
know that I released a ten pounder and at least
one eight-pounder because they were hooked
outside the mouth and California law doesnít
allow those fish to be weighed in. So, I could
have culled up several pounds had it not been
AC: Fishing at the highest
level in our sport requires skill that most of
us never come close to reaching. What would you
say gives you an edge over the other Elite
SK: I have a mechanical engineering degree, so I
have always had a knack for analytical problem
solving. That ability helps me make better
decisions on the water.
AC: I read somewhere that
you worked on side scan technology years ago.
Is that true and can you share that story?
SK: Side Scan technology has been around since
the end of World War 2. People think it is brand
new, but it really isnít. I spent hundreds of
hours researching side imaging. To carry it
further was cost prohibitive for me. Back then,
the transducer alone would have cost over
$10,000 per side.
AC: As an angler, what is
SK: I am a big bait guy. I like to throw the big
stuff. I am not a drop shot kind of guy.
AC: What is your weakness?
SK: I do not like finesse fishing. Donít get me
wrong. I am proficient at it and if I have to, I
can do it with the best of them. I just donít
like to do it.
AC: What advantage do the
young, up and coming anglers have now that you
didnít have when you started.
SK: These young guys are experts with their
electronics. Plus, they got to start fishing
competitively at an earlier age. Some of them
started fishing at a national level in high
AC: I know your dad was an
accomplished tournament angler in his own right.
I read somewhere that he was an offshore expert.
SK: Dad was one of the first if not the first
anglers to use sonar to locate offshore fish.
And he did it, in those days using a flasher. He
became known locally as the Spoon Man. Because
of his proficiency with a structure spoon, or
jigging spoon. Some of the spots he found nobody
else knew about for years. Of course, now they
are considered community holes.
AC: I read somewhere that
your dad said that ĒBanks are for holding money,
SK (laughing): He did say that, and he won a lot
of tournaments by applying that philosophy.
AC: Tell me about Bass Cat
SK: I would love to talk about Bass Cat Boats. I
fish out of an Eyra. Bass Cat did their homework
when they came up with this design. It is one of
the best hulls Iíve seen. Itís incredibly fast
and for a 20-foot boat it
handles rough water well. It doesnít chine walk
at any speed. When I am running up a creek with
a lot of twists and turns the boat doesnít hop,
skip, or slide in the turns. Where-ever you
point the bow is where the boat is going to go.
Bass Cat got everything right with all their
models, but I love my Eyra.
Steve Kennedy is a legend.
He has established himself as a force to be
reckoned with amongst his peers. And the part
that I love the most about that, is that he has
done it quietly. Whether intentional or not it
seems that he has managed to avoid most of the
glitz and glamour associated with success.
Steveís natural demeaner may appear to be mild
mannered, but when I first introduced myself
and shook his hand I knew after two minutes of
conversation with him, that behind the kind eyes
and warm smile is a fierce resolve that is
unmistakable. Iím sure that his fellow pros can
attest to the fact that come tournament day,
Steve Kennedy is determined to do what it takes
to win and take no prisoners, and if in the
process he happens to catch a limit of bass that
is over 100 pounds then so be it. You canít get
any more resolute than that. Thank you, Steve,
and Julia Kennedy for taking the time to spend a
few minutes with me. I wish you continued
success in the future.
Good Fishing and God Bless.