- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Among bass tournament professionals, Marylanders generally do not make much of an impact, with the lone exception being Laurel’s Roland Martin, one of the biggest names ever. However, when the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society conducted its latest $300,000 event on giant Lake Okeechobee in Florida, it was a Marylander who came out on top because he had a bit of an edge.

J. T. Kenney of Frostburg once guided on Okeechobee, and intimate knowledge of the 730 square-mile lake helped him take the $52,000 top prize Saturday. The 29-year-old angler won the Florida Southern Open by posting two five-bass limits exceeding 20 pounds, but on the final day he struggled to find 151/4 pounds of fish. Still, it was enough to win. His three-day total was 613/4 pounds.

North Carolina pro Chris Baumgardner finished second with 53 pounds, followed by Mark Shepard of Florida with 49 pounds, 13 ounces. Tennessee’s David Walker had 47-14.

The Missouri father and son team of Denny and Chad Brauer also did well, with Chad weighing in at 47-11, and Denny hooking and landing 46-15 of bass, good enough for fifth and sixth place, respectively.

In the end, it was Kenney’s ability to locate and land bragging-sized largemouths that sealed his victory. He took the big bass award the first two days of the tournament with trophies weighing 8-9 and 9-11, and his Saturday catch included a 6-plus pound bass that prompted him to say, “The ballgame’s over, boys.”

Kenney used a 3-inch-long Gambler Crickett, a plastic crawfish that he cast into thick beds of hydrilla water weeds in the King’s Bar area of the lake.

Renegade bass tournament — The local Renegade Bassmasters will have their 17th Fall Open Team Bass Tournament out of Smallwood State Park on Saturday. The two-man entry fee is $80, and the club offers an 80 percent payback in prize money. Tournament hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the waters of the tidal Potomac and its feeder creeks open. Entries are accepted until 6:45 a.m. the day of competition. Food, prepared by the local fire department, will be available before the contest and during the weighing of the bass. For additional information, Steve Polli, 301/753-6015.

Menhaden netting should stop — Christine W. Snovell of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation in Leesburg passes along news about the action taken by her organization and the Coastal Conservation Association/Virginia (CCA/VA) concerning the purse seining of steadily diminishing populations of Atlantic menhaden, an oily baitfish that is the veritable lifeblood of many larger fish species.

Snovell writes, “The Coastal Conservation Association Virginia applauds the National Coalition for Marine Conservation’s (NCMC) petition requesting [that] the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) prohibit all purse seine fishing for Atlantic menhaden within the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.”

The CCA/VA is known for its stand concerning the commercially motivated removal of menhaden. Menhaden stocks are at record low levels at a time when striped bass stocks are high, with bluefish and gray sea trout populations also increasing. Without the menhaden serving as forage for these species, problems will occur in the not too distant future. But is anybody listening? For example, would a Virginia or Maryland fisheries commission worry about such things when it is actually run by commercial fish netters or by people totally in lock-step with them?

For shame.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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