Father, son ‘Keen’ on finding big fish


White Hall’s Larry Keen made a decision Saturday morning to only fish the deeper waters in Pine Bluff in the second round of the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza.

After netting a pair of fish early in the morning, Keen and son Preston did not waiver from their plan, even when the fish stopped biting. “I only caught four fish today,” Keen said. “It was tough out there. When it’s this hot, it takes a lot of effort and energy to fish like this.”

The effort paid off in the end and the Keens placed atop the final hourly weigh-in tally with a 4.69, slightly larger than the second-place finish in the noon weigh-in of 4.45.

The first- and second-place finishes, coupled with Friday’s second place finish in the 10 a.m. hour, leave Keen guaranteed at least a $700 paycheck for the weekend.

“It helps pay for everything,” he said. “It takes a lot of money to fish these tournaments, so any time you come away with money it helps.”

White Hall’s Jess Everette took the lead in the Pine Bluff pool on Saturday with a 5.38, eclipsing the mark of 5.19 set by Kelly Glover on Friday. With today’s angler action still to come, Keen believes the $50,000 fish could still be in the water as none of the five pools in the event have produced as large as last year’s overall winner, a 6.81 turned in by Parkdale’s Patrick Chapman.

“I don’t think we have seen the winner yet,” Keen said. “And there are plenty of 6-6 1/2 pound fish out here. It’s just going to take a little luck finding it.”

Or it may take Preston tying on the right lure.

“He picks out my crank baits and tells me what to throw,” Keen said. “I liked it, so I said OK, I will throw it.”

The decision didn’t catch a lot of fish in the 20-plus foot deep waters the Keens were treading, but it did garner some healthy ones. Preston said his selection process is simple.

“I pick out what I think will work,” Preston said. “It just comes natural … if they are pretty or not. It depends on the time of year. Today was XD (extra deep) long bill.”

Larry said Preston’s selections were closely related to other areas of the teenager’s life.

“I think it’s a lot like girls,” the father said. “If it’s pretty that’s what he likes. That’s what all 15-year olds like, isn’t it?”

Keen said the duo would continue to fish deeper waters today in an effort to catch the biggest fish of the bonanza or at least in the Pine Bluff pool, which would net $10,000.

“We are close,” Keen said. ‘The 5-pounder (Friday) was just one-fourth off and I’m in real deep water so I think I can get there. You just have to be lucky enough to get that one bite. Whoever catches the biggest fish is the best fisherman of that day. And we’ve found some big fish the first two days, so I feel like we’re in the right place.”

Ronnie Hartsfield was the big money winner of the day, carting off with a $1,000 Willow Leaf Award after turning in the big fish in the 11-o’clock hour. That bonus money is given to anyone fishing as part of a father-son or grandfather-grandson team.

The record for the Big Bass Bonanza was set in the inaugural 1989 tournament by Dexter, Mo.’s Steve Hardin with a catch of 8.95.

Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza

Day 2 of 3: Pool Leaders

• Dardanelle — Jerry Overton, 6.19

• Dumas — Les Irons, 5.93

• Pine Bluff — Jess Everette, 5.38

• Fort Smith — Craig Flowers, 5.22

• North Little Rock — Charlton McCall, 4.63

(Overall leader at end of tournament wins $50,000. Other pool leaders each win $10,000.)

Saturday’s hourly weigh-in results

At Pine Bluff Harbor, Regional Park

• 8 a.m. — Brett Rogers 4.51, Jack Bray 4.15, Steve Henderson 3.73

• 9 a.m. — James Morris 4.47, Terry Stewart 4.42, Dalton Craig 4.11

• 10 a.m. — Jess Everette 5.38, Terry Stewart 3.94, Jay Seale 3.91

• 11 a.m. — Ronnie Hartsfield (Willow Leaf Award) 5.12, Gaylon Green 3.88, Bart Moore 3.81

• Noon — Terry Stewart 5.02, Larry Keen 4.45, Brian Pennington 3.56

• 1 p.m. — Larry Keen 4.69, Randy Hall 4.42, Gaylon Green 4.18