Kennon’s monster is biggest Lunker Program entry in three years
Even the hottest tip from a stockbroker probably wouldn’t yield the quick return on your money that Sean Kennon realized Saturday morning, March 2, up at Toledo Bend.
The 27-year-old DeQuincy angler entered the annual BassCashBash for $50, and also purchased a $20 ’bonus’ T-shirt that would increase his winnings on any double-digit fish by $500.
Just a few hours later, he headed out to the south end of the reservoir on the Texas side to participate in the Fort Polk Bassmasters Spring Open — and promptly reeled in a giant 14-pound largemouth at about 7:20 that morning, which won him big bass honors and 5th place for the tournament, plus a cool $1,500 for his hours-old $70 BassCashBash entry.
It gets even better – if no other BassCashBass participant catches a bigger fish by July 4 on Toledo Bend, Kennon earns an additional $5,000 for the lunker catch.
“I’ll fish my whole life trying to top her, but she’s no doubt the fish of a lifetime,” Kennon said during a Tuesday morning interview. “I’m still pumped up over it, man.”
He was fishing with his cousin, Matt Hungerford, in overcast conditions with a northeast wind and a chilly water temperature of 52 degrees.
“With the water temperature, I went there with the mindset knowing fish weren’t going to be up doing their thing yet, so I was focusing on staging fish getting ready to move up,” he said.
He and Hungerford were positioned in a promising area to start the day, he said.
“We couldn’t cast until 6:30, so I got to the spot and actually idled over a big group of fish, so I anchored off to the side of them with Spot-Lock on my trolling motor and we just waited to cast,” Kennon said. “So 6:30 hit and we started throwing on them and we got a few little bites, but they were biting really, really finicky.
“So I told Matt we were going to circle around to the other side to get a different angle on them. The school of fish was actually holding up shallow, so when I circled around I threw off the side of the ledge — and the big one I caught was actually in about 24 feet of water.”
Kennon was fishing with a heavy Powell 7.5 rod and a 13 Fishing Concept Z reel spooled with 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon attached to a Santone Lures ¾-ounce football jig in peanut butter and jelly color when lightning struck.
“I felt my jig hit the actual side of the ledge, and the bite had been real finicky, so I was dragging it back brutally slow,” he said. “I felt her when she grabbed it, and I told him, ‘That’s a bite.’ I reeled down and I checked her, and then laid into her — and when I did I told him to get the net because it was a good one.
“Literally whenever I hooked her I felt her head shake and she slowly started coming up, so I immediately shoved my rod down to keep her down and she surfaced one time, but she never jumped. I told him it was a 7 ½- or 8-pounder. She made one little run at the boat and he netted her for me. When he flipped her in, I figured it was about an 11-pounder.”
Kennon is no stranger to lunkers — he’s already caught an 11-pounder at the Bend, and a 10-plus-pounder on Sam Rayburn — but he was more focused on the tournament than the giant fish he’d just reeled in.
“In my mind, I really wanted to get back on the front of the deck and catch four more fish,” he said. “I literally put her in the livewell, and I never checked her out real good at that time and went back to fishing. I rode around with her in my livewell all day. I had no clue she was 14 pounds.
“I knew she was big and I checked on her all day long, but I didn’t take the time to look at her or appreciate how big she was then.”
That all changed at the 3 p.m. weigh-in when Kennon got a better look at the giant, which tipped the certified tournament scales at 14 pounds even, with a 27 ½-inch length and a girth of 19 ¼ inches. The massive fish easily qualified for entry into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program, which awards anglers who return double-digit fish to the reservoir with a complimentary mount.
Unfortunately for Kennon and Hungerford, action was sparse after the huge fish bit, and they didn’t boat another keeper all day long. But the lunker by itself was good for a 5th place finish — and a day on the water neither man will likely ever forget.
“The guys that won were 40 yards from me. We watched them catch all five of their fish, and they watched me catch that big one. They had 24 pounds — it was a window from 7:20 to about 7:45 that they just turned on,” Kennon said. “Overall, it was a tough day. They bit finicky. Toledo Bend has been fishing tough, probably the toughest I‘ve seen it — and I’ve fished it a lot.
“But that was the fish of lifetime, that’s for sure.”