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Steve Kennedy Q&A
By Ron Niswonger, U.S. Anglers Choice Contributor

 

 

  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 wrap.

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.

Photo Bassmaster

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 fishing competitively?
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 started fishing.

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 for that.

Photo Credit: Bassmaster

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 Series Pros.
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 your strength?
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 school. 

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, not bass.Ē
SK (laughing): He did say that, and he won a lot of tournaments by applying that philosophy.

Photo Credit: Bassmaster

AC: Tell me about Bass Cat Boats.
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.