(This is part 2 of a 3-part Q&A with Alabama tour pro Steve Kennedy, who's currently ranked No. 3 in the BassFan World Rankings presented by Tru-Tungsten.)
BassFan: By your math, that's more than $700,000 you've won in the past 2 years. What do you do with all that money?
Kennedy: Spend it on gas (laughs). Actually, we've been looking for a house, and haven't bought one yet. We've got some good money in the bank, and we bought the RV last year. We got a 3500 (pickup) truck, and a new Jeep. (Editor's note: Kennedy often uses "we" in reference to he and his wife Julia. Perhaps his dog Louie's included in there too.)
We are looking to buy a house – it looks like a good time to buy – but haggling with folks takes up a lot of time.
At that pace, you'd be set up for an early retirement.
It would take another good year or two. You have to remember we spend a lot though. And gas prices scare me. I may burn 10,000 gallons a year. That cost $20,000 to $25,000 last year, and it'll essentially be $35,000 this year.
Your fans certainly want to watch you fish for a long time, but is an early retirement something you've ever thought about?
I'll always be fishing – or at least I hope I will. But I don't know. I'm not thinking about it right now. I'm having too much fun. I caught a 40-pound bag, a 36-pound bag, a 32-pound bag. It's the most fun I've had in my life. So retirement's not something on my radar right now.
To switch the train of thought somewhat, you got on the football jig a few years ago and windmilled fish with it. Same thing with the swimbait this past year. Any new techniques you're working with now, in preparation for this season?
I'm always expanding. I grew up with my dad fishing deep, but I only picked up that jig 4 years ago maybe.
Frank Divis out of Arkansas – I drew him in a Stren Series at Kentucky Lake and he's the one who showed me that jig. I came back a year or two later and won the FLW (Tour) with it. So it's something I only picked up in the last 3 or 4 years, and I'm just loving it.
And (2 years ago), I was throwing the ChatterBait at Amistad. I had 29 pounds on a ChatterBait. A lot of guys get credit for bringing it out, but we'd been throwing it a long time. We just didn't talk about it.
Then swimbaits this (last) year – I caught the biggest bags of my life on a swimbait. I frequently change the way I fish, and (swimbaits) opened my eyes.
I'm still looking for new opportunities – new baits. I can't wait to see what kind of baits they come out with. I heard there might be a few at the (Bassmaster) Classic.
Given your excitement for new baits, have you ever pursued a bait-development contract?
I hadn't been working on any of that. Well, I say that, but Derek Yamamoto at Kinami Baits and I've been working on a toad. I have the third prototype.
Other than that, I hadn't specifically been working on it. I've got a bunch of prototype stuff people send me – some swimbait hooks and other stuff.
I am an engineer, and I'd rather do that (develop baits) than run around working boat shows. I'd rather be designing.
Kennedy's boat is 3 years old, but he's hesitant to go with a new one – he's not sure it'll fit on his double-stack trailer.
Is it just that the opportunities haven't presented themselves?
Yeah. And you don't want to do it for free. I certainly see a lot of opportunities there, especially with the swimbaits. It's not something I'm pursuing though. I'm having too much fun doing what I'm doing.
Does that mean you're not out there looking for sponsors? After all, you only have a couple.
That's one way to look at it.
Why aren't you out there looking? Is it because you don't want to do things like work boat shows?
I'm in a situation where I'm making a lot of money, and fishing more events than some of the other guys are. I've had really one good offer this year. We just didn't get it done.
Other than that, I can't see the time (sponsors) want vs. what they're paying. I can make more money just fishing another tournament.
If I were to go work at it, I could probably do really well going at it that way too (pursuing sponsors). But we're having too much fun.
Pretty much all your peers get a new boat each year. Not you. What's it like fishing from a worn-in model?
It's the same boat I got 3 years ago, and it's always a work in progress. I've changed motors on it. I like the boat, it's a 19-foot, and to my knowledge, they don't make it anymore.
We bought that double-stack trailer, and with these new wide boats, getting them to fit on that double trailer that's less than 102 inches wide is hard. There's a lot to consider there in going with a new boat, other than how much they're willing to pay me.
The maximum you can tow on the interstate without having special permits is 102 inches wide. So you'd have to get (permits) for every state. And a lot of the backroads you get on, the limit's only 96 inches. There are a lot of boats already over that – or boat trailers, anyway. I don't know how they get away with that.
And when you get it on a (double-stack) trailer, then jack it up in the air, it adds a lot.
> BassFan asked Kennedy, if he could drop one lake from this year's Elite Series schedule, which would it be? "Wheeler," he said. "It's here in Alabama, and I've been up there a bunch, but I cannot recall having a good tournament at Wheeler. The Decatur Flats gets too crowded, and I've just never had a good tournament up there."
– End of part 2 (of 3) –