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Kennedy Wins Dardanelle Bassmaster Elite

Steve Kennedy weighed 16-9 during the final weigh-in to take home $100,000 and the third championship of his career at the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle

Kennedy Wins Dardanelle Bassmaster Elite
Kennedy Wins Dardanelle Bassmaster Elite

Steve Kennedy ofAuburn, Ala., wasn’t dominating the event until he weighed 16 pounds, 9 ouncesof bass during the final weigh-in to take home $100,000 and the thirdchampionship of his career at the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle.

A big bass late in the day on Monday that weighed 5-10 anchored his five-basslimit and pushed his four-day winning weight to 63-12. The last time Kennedytopped a Bassmaster Elite Series field was in 2011 at Georgia’s West PointLake.

“I’ve been so close so many times before, and I’ve usually lost tournamentsbecause of a missed bite, or losing a fish before I could get it inside theboat,” Kennedy said. “It sure feels good to win one, especially after nearlywinning this year’s Classic on Conroe.”

Kennedy won $50,000 for an impressive second-place finish at the 2017Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in March on Lake Conroein Texas.

The 48-year-old veteran made a 100-mile round trip each day to fish a smallbackwater just below the Ozark Dam on the Arkansas River.

“I found that spot during practice, and since the water is over 20 feet highright now, I was able to get my Bass Cat into the small pond-like area,” hesaid. “Once I got in there, I was impressed with the amount of life that waspresent. There were gar surfacing everywhere, shad flicking and bass feeding,which told me it was worth a visit each day.”

On Friday’s opening round of competition, he made the run to the dam and caught16-10, which had him quietly in ninth place. Saturday morning he went to thesame location, caught 14-3 and moved up the leaderboard into fifth place.

“On Sunday I caught 16-6, which had me in third place and I knew I had a realshot,” he said. “After I caught that big fish today I felt like I had it lockedup, but Mark Davis kept it too close for comfort.”

Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., led the event on both Saturday and Sunday, but couldonly manage 13-10 on the final day and finished second, only 1-10 behindKennedy.

Most of the fish that Kennedy brought to the scales this week were caught on a3/4-ounce D&L Advantage flipping jig with a white plastic trailer.

“I used the exact same program at the Classic back in March,” he said. “Therewas still a bit of a shad spawn going on this week, and by swimming the jigthrough the willows, stopping it and letting it fall along the edge of theweeds, the bass would absolutely smoke it. I also caught several fish on agreen pumpkin swim jig, and a few on topwater.”

With Kennedy’s wife and children there to congratulate his victory, he waselated.


“It’s been a while,” he said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform anddo well, and when I don’t succeed I take it hard. It means a lot to my familyand me to bring home one of those coveted blue trophies.”

Other top finishers included Kevin VanDam, third with 60-11; Mark Menendez, whowon here in 2009, fourth with 57-9; and Dean Rojas, fifth with 56-7.

Ott DeFoe, who finished 15th at Dardanelle with 41-12, has a slight lead overJacob Wheeler and Brandon Palaniuk for Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Yearwith three more regular season tournaments remaining in the Elite Series. Hewas awarded $1,000 for leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year pointsrace at the end of the event.

David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., claimed the $1,500 Phoenix Boats Big BassAward for a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth he caught during Friday’s openinground.

Davis won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading thetournament on Saturday’s second day of competition.

Jamie Hartman of Newport, N.Y., won the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 forbeing the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program. Thesecond-highest-placing eligible entrant, Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., received$2,000.

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of$1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible anduses a client-approved product on his boat.

Click here for complete event results.

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