Bad weather meant good fishing for Chatham’s Heath Kennedy
Getting off from work early is usually a good thing, but on Thursday, Feb. 24, it was an absolutely great thing for 33-year-old Heath Kennedy of Chatham. The 32 degree foggy rainy weather conditions were a little too bad for work on the Amethyst Construction project he was on, so he knocked off work about 10 a.m. and went home. But they weren’t too bad to fish in.
So he decided to do just that. He loaded up and went to Caney Lake near his home. It was a good decision. After four hours of fishing, he had not only caught a 10.27 pound whopper, but also a 9-pounder and a best-five stringer weighing 37.94 pounds. That’s a 7.5 pound average.
“It was pretty amazing,” he said on Thursday night after getting home and collecting his thoughts. “I fish on Caney several days a week and when I hooked up about 1 p.m., I started to go to D’Arbonne. But I remembered they were having a big pro crappie tournament there and I didn’t want to get in the middle of that. So I just went to Caney.
It wasn’t easy
It wasn’t an easy day fishing. In fact, Kennedy said he only got a bite on about one out of every 30 casts. That may not seem bad, but consider this. Kennedy located the fish in one small area and he spent four hours casting his 3/4-ounce Peanut Butter & Jelly Strike King Structure jig in the same small area. Over and over and over again. He uses a “structure” jig for grass because it has a pointed head, unlike the oblong head on a football jig, which hangs more in the grass.
“I knew the fish were there, but I couldn’t see many of them on the electronics,” he said. “But when one of the smaller ones would chase the jig, I could see bigger ones moving up off the bottom. They were literally laying with their belly on the bottom. The last two I caught were so tight down there they had mud on their bellies even after I reeled them in.”
He caught quite a few fish, including a 6-pounder before 2 p.m. and the nine pounder at 3:11 p.m. He actually loaded up the fish in the livewell and took it to Robert Albright, who runs the Caney Creek Bass Club, and weighed it on his boat dock on certified scales. He then returned to the same spot, put his trolling motor on spotlock and caught another almost 8-pounder at 3:45. In the next hour, he caught a couple more under 4 pounds and then one he thought was 10 pounds, but ended up 9.23. He then ended the day an hour later with a 10.27 whopper right at 5 p.m. Again, he headed to the certified scales to make sure of the weight. The exact weights of the top five he caught during the afternoon were 6.10, 7.51, 4.80, 9.23 and 10.27 pounds. All told, he said he caught around 20 bass. Not a bad afternoon of bass fishing.
Back in the water
Kennedy released all of his fish. And with each big fish, he weighed them, took a picture and returned them to the water immediately to fight another day.
“A few days ago, the water temperature was up to 57 degrees and those fish were moving up to the shallower grass and staging to get ready to move in for the spawn,” he said. “I knew where they were. But we had a brutal cold front blow through Wednesday and the temperature dropped significantly. Today water temp was about 51 degrees. I started shallower, but didn’t do any good, so I dropped back out into the 15-foot grass and found them in this one tight spot. The reason there were so many bass stacked right there is that there is a little drain with a hard bottom right on the edge of the grass and timber. They were just holding waiting to go back up more shallow.
“I could not get them to react to anything moving, so I just put on the jig and fish it as slow as I could. I stayed there because ever once in a while those smaller fish would react and big ones would rise up off the bottom, but not hit it. Then the wind came up and that is a big deal. It helps to get the big bass biting because they aren’t quite as spooky. By the time I caught the biggest one, the waves were whitecapping.”
After a catch like that, you’d think he might take a day off from fishing, too. But no. He was on the lake again Friday. Who could blame him?