Steve Kennedy leads the field after the first day of the 2021 Bassmaster Classic.
Kennedy's five fish weighed 23 pounds. He has an edge of only nine ounces over the second-place Patrick Walters (22 pounds, 7 ounces). Defending champion Hank Cherry Jr. sits in third place (20 pounds, 4 ounces).
The leaderboard behind Cherry is bunched together with less than two pounds separating Nos. 4 through 17.
Friday's 2021 Bassmaster Classic Leaderboard
1. Steve Kennedy (23 pounds, 0 ounces)
2. Patrick Walters (22 pounds, 7 ounces)
3. Hank Cherry Jr. (20 pounds, 4 ounces)
4. Chris Jones (17 pounds, 2 ounces)
5. Drew Cook (16 pounds, 10 ounces)
T6. Jamie Hartman (16 pounds, 4 ounces)
T6. Matt Robertson (16 pounds, 4 ounces)
8. Jordan Wiggins (16 pounds, 3 ounces)
9. Cory Johnston (16 pounds, 2 ounces)
10. Chris Johnston (16 pounds, 0 ounces)
T11. Drew Benton (15 pounds, 14 ounces)
T11. Hunter Shryock (15 pounds, 14 ounces)
13. Todd Auten (15 pounds, 12 ounces)
14. Frank Talley (15 pounds, 10 ounces)
15. Cody Bird (15 pounds, 8 ounces)
Full leaderboard via Bassmaster.com.
Kennedy was consistent on the water to occupy the top spot. The crown jewel of his collection was a five-pound, 10-ounce bass he caught late in the morning.
Self-affirmations, visualizations, or all-around good vibes, whatever @ProSteveKennedy is doing is WORKING! He knew he would catch a big one and he just caught this 5-10 big bass! Don't miss a second of the action and tune in now for #BassmasterLIVE on https://t.co/x7d0GcxVJc! pic.twitter.com/s5iHL4GGNa
The Day 1 haul bodes well as he chases his first career Bassmaster Classic win.
Each of the past two leaders at the end of the opening day of competition captured the title. Jordan Lee went from third on the first day to first when he won in 2018.
Cherry, who was the wire-to-wire winner last year, didn't get off to as strong a start this time around. He began the 2020 event with a haul of 29 pounds, three ounces. The 47-year-old is firmly in the mix to repeat as champion.
💥Boom💥Defending Classic Champ @cherryhank gets started early on Day 1 of the @Academy Bassmaster Classic presented by @HukGear! Tune in now to #BassmasterLIVE and see all the coverage from Lake Ray Roberts!<br>Click here to watch -> https://t.co/Nwhf0VBfaL#BassmasterClassic pic.twitter.com/Mn6mtGDHqq
The biggest individual catch of the day belonged to Frank Talley. He caught a bass that weighed eight pounds, three ounces. The Texan had three other fish that combined to weigh seven pounds, seven ounces.
Competition will resume Saturday morning, with the top 25 finishers advancing to championship Sunday.