Kenney Retains Lead At Walmart FLW Tour Opener On Lake Toho Presented By Mercury

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Professional bass angler J.T. Kenney slipped a bit and weighed in his smallest limit of the tournament, but it was still enough to maintain a near-insurmountable 12 pound, 8 ounce lead heading into the fourth and final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Toho presented by Mercury. The top cash award of $125,000 is now his to lose as the world’s best bass-fishing pros continued their four-day battle out of Big Toho Marina on Saturday.

JT Kenney is looking pretty happy in the weigh-in line Saturday.

I know that I could have lost this tournament today if I would have gone and tried to catch those big ones. I have a sizable lead, so I went into defense mode. I stayed in Lake Toho and caught a decent bag of fish.

Professional bass angler J.T. Kenney slipped a bit and weighed in his smallest limit of the tournament, but it was still enough to maintain a near-insurmountable 12 pound, 8 ounce lead heading into the fourth and final day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Toho presented by Mercury. The top cash award of $125,000 is now his to lose as the world’s best bass-fishing pros continued their four-day battle out of Big Toho Marina on Saturday.

The Palm Bay, Florida, native moved on to the final day of competition as the No. 1 seed with a five-bass limit of 14 pounds, 5 ounces. Kenney’s three-day catch of 15 bass weighing 66-12 gives him a commanding lead over second-place pro Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tennessee.

“I think that I’m really starting to understand those big Florida-strain female bass,” said Kenney, who is looking to bank his second career win on the FLW Tour. “I know that I could have lost this tournament today if I would have gone and tried to catch those big ones. I have a sizable lead, so I went into defense mode. I stayed up in Lake Toho and caught a decent bag of fish.”

Kenney said that he had been catching his fish the previous two days of competition in Lake Kissimmee, using his J.T. Kenney-signature series Halo Rod to cast a Gambler Fat Ace. Due to the overcast weather conditions Saturday, he was forced to audible to his backup plan.

“I broke out a Nichols ½-ounce Pulsator spinnerbait and stuck around areas where I knew fish were and caught around 10 keepers,” Kenney said. “My whole plan is coming together. I had a contingency plan for a cold front and today, I went to it and utilized it. I knew that when I took off this morning that I wasn’t going to catch a giant bag of fish, but I was playing defense.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do or where I’m going to be fishing tomorrow yet,” Kenney went on to say. “I’ll have to see what the weather does. I’m going to play whatever cards Mother Nature deals me and if it works out, it works out.”

The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition on Lake Toho are:

1st: J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., 15 bass, 66-12
2nd: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 15 bass, 54-4
3rd: Quaker State pro Scott Canterbury, Springville, Ala., 15 bass, 53-11     
4th: Stacey King, Reeds Spring, Mo., 15 bass, 50-0     
5th: Stetson Blaylock, Benton, Ark., 15 bass, 49-15     
6th: Bridgford Foods pro Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 15 bass, 49-11     
7th: Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 15 bass, 48-15     
8th: Troy Morrow, Eastanollee, Ga., 15 bass, 48-12     
9th: Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 15 bass, 47-2
10th: Bridgford Foods pro Randy Blaukat, Joplin, Mo., 15 bass, 46-7     

Finishing in 11th through 20th are:

11th: James Biggs, Euless, Texas, 15 bass, 46-5, $12,000
12th: Keystone Light pro Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 15 bass, 44-13, $12,000
13th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 15 bass, 44-4, $12,000
14th: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., 14 bass, 42-5, $12,000
15th: Lionel Botha, Fort Pierce, Fla., 15 bass, 42-2, $12,000
16th: Brad Knight, Lancing, Tenn., 14 bass, 40-13, $12,000
17th: Travis Fox, Rogers, Ark., 15 bass, 38-15, $12,000
18th: Shane Lehew, Mooresville, N.C., 13 bass, 38-10, $12,000
19th: Marshall Deakins, Dunlap, Tenn., 13 bass, 38-0, $12,000
20th: Bridgford Foods pro Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., 13 bass, 36-2, $12,000

Final results for the remaining field can be found at FLWFishing.com.

Overall, there were 92 bass weighing 243 pounds, 14 ounces, caught by pros Saturday. 15 professionals weighed in five-bass limits.

Bridgford Foods co-angler Chad Randles of Elkhorn, Nebraska, won the co-angler division and $20,000 Friday with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 29 pounds, 15 ounces, followed by Mark Holman of Cornelius, North Carolina, in second place with nine bass weighing 27 pounds, 11 ounces, worth $7,500.

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 this week for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2015 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Aug. 20-23 on Lake Ouachita and is hosted by Visit Hot Springs. The Forrest Wood Cup Champion could win as much as $500,000 – professional bass-fishing’s richest prize.

Anglers will take off from Big Toho Marina located at 69 Lakeview Drive in Kissimmee at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the marina beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Big Toho Marina prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a Ranger boat simulator, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

Coverage of the Lake Toho tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) when Season 20 of “FLW” premieres Sept. 28 from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. ET. 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.

For complete details and updated information, visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

ABOUT FLW
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2015 over the course of 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. For more information about FLW, visit FLWFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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Joe Opager
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