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Kenney Leads Walmart FLW Tour Open on Sam Rayburn Presented by Mercury

LUFKIN, Texas, Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Straight Talk pro J.T. Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., took the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour Open on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury with a five-bass limit that weighed 19 pounds, 6 ounces. A field of the best bass professionals in the world are battling it out for a first-place cash prize of up to $125,000. Kenney leads second-place angler Tommy Durham of Whitney, Texas, by 2 pounds, 4 ounces.

Link to photo of pro leader JT Kenney

Rayburn turned into a fickle fishery Thursday as many of the pros struggled to catch a limit and seasoned professionals were heard saying that they weighed their lightest bag ever in competition. But the Straight Talk pro figured something out, and his bag was anchored by two bass that each weighed over 6 pounds.

Kenney, known for his strength of flipping grass, indicated that he had not caught a bass flipping grass since January on Lake Okeechobee. Instead, he has found a new fascination with offshore fishing. Kenney is excited and perhaps rejuvenated with a new style of fishing that he seems to have quickly mastered — at least on Rayburn.

"This is a whole new window of opportunity for me," said Kenney. "The thing that I find fascinating is that you can win a tournament on two or three spots, as opposed to bank fishing where you randomly hope you catch a good one here and there. Offshore fish tend to stay in one area and replenish.

"I started my practice by finding a bank I figured out how to catch keepers on," Kenney continued. "It took me about three hours. The rest of my practice was spent fishing offshore. I found three good spots; I didn't even hit them all today. My two big ones came early off the same spot, so I left it alone. I had a good limit by 9 a.m., and I had caught what I weighed by 11."

Kenney indicated that he is fishing in about 17 to 25 feet of water targeting brush piles and dropoffs where the baitfish are hanging out. He indicated the importance of presentation and did not want to go into specifics about the baits he is using but mentioned both moving baits and plastics. He did say the moving baits seem to produce the bigger fish. Kenney said he is confident in his areas and is feeling good about his chances of making his second Tour top 10 of 2012.

The top 10 pros after day one on Sam Rayburn are:

1st: Straight Talk pro J.T. Kenney, Palm Bay, Fla., five bass, 19-6
2nd: Tommy Durham, Whitney, Texas, five bass, 17-2
3rd: Phil Marks, Dallas, Texas, five bass, 17-1
4th: Keith Combs, Huntington, Texas, five bass, 16-12
5th: Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., five bass, 15-3
6th: Matt Herren, Trussville, Ala., five bass, 14-13
7th: Art Ferguson III, St. Clair Shores, Mich., five bass, 14-11
8th: Dion Hibdon, Sunrise Beach, Mo., five bass, 14-7
9th: John Cox, Debary, Fla., five bass, 14-0
9th: Kevin Walker, Buna, Texas, five bass, 14-0

For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.

Combs caught Thursday's big bass weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces on the pro side to win $500.

Overall there were 459 bass weighing 990 pounds, 5 ounces caught by 110 pros Thursday. The catch included 69 five-bass limits.

Pros are competing for a top award of up to $125,000 this week plus valuable points in the hope of qualifying for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The top five anglers in the point standings from the four Walmart FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

Clint Farris of Joshua, Texas, leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 16-2 followed by Tommy Mendoza of Lake Charles, La., in second place with five bass weighing 13-9.

Top-10 co-anglers are:

1st: Clint Farris, Joshua, Texas, five bass, 16-2
2nd: Tommy Mendoza, Lake Charles, La., 13-9
3rd: Scott Darragh, Midlothian, Texas, five bass, 12-9
4th: Darrell Denton, Georgetown, Texas, four bass, 12-5
5th: Ryan Edwards, Stuart, Fla., five bass, 10-15
6th: Jeff Sprague, Edgewood, Texas, five bass, 10-7
7th: Matthew McClellan, Tyler, Texas, five bass, 9-9
8th: Ben Todd, Pierson, Fla., five bass, 9-8
9th: Clayton Batts, Macon, Ga., five bass, 9-6
9th: Justin Caudle, Shreveport, La., five bass, 9-6

For a full list of results visit FLWOutdoors.com.

Farris caught Thursday's big bass weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces on the co-angler side to win $250.

Overall there were 258 bass weighing 505 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 110 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 18 five-bass limits.

Co-anglers are fishing for a top award of $25,000 this week plus valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup. The top five co-anglers in the point standings from the four Walmart FLW Tour Open tournaments will qualify.

Anglers will take off from Cassels-Boykin County Park located at FM Road 3123 (Off State Hwy 147) in Zavalla, Texas, at 7:30 a.m. daily. Friday's weigh-in will also be held at Cassels-Boykin County Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 2500 Daniel McCall Drive in Lufkin beginning at 4 p.m.

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

Coverage of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when "FLW" airs Nov. 18 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. "FLW" is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

For complete details and updated information visit FLWOutdoors.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the FLW Tour 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 unparalleled fishing resources and entertainment to our sponsors, fans and host communities. FLW is offering anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2012 over the course of 191 tournaments across five tournament circuits, each providing an avenue to the sport's richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW is committed to providing a lifestyle experience that is the "Best in Fishing, On and Off the Water," through a variety of platforms including tournaments, outdoor expos and the world's richest fantasy sports game – FLW Fantasy Fishing. For more information about FLW and FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FLWOutdoors.com or FantasyFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter and Facebook.

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SOURCE FLW Outdoors