Final Stop: Jurassic Park
By Rob Newell
July 24, 2018
MLF always saves the best for last and as the World Championship week comes to a close with the Championship Round, the Final Four find themselves on the banks of the infamous Kenansville Lake.
If you have never heard of Kenansville, it also goes by the nickname “Jurassic Park,” so called because of its underground reputation for producing giant Florida Bass. At just 2500 acres, with an average depth of 4 feet, Kenansville is an obscure spit of water located down a 12-mile dirt road. Using the code name “Jurassic Park,” local anglers in the area were able to keep Kenansville a secret for a few years after it opened. However in time the location of “The Park” got out and Kenansville has become another popular flooded farm fishery. Thankfully, though, Kenansville is catch and release only so there are still plenty of bass to catch, they’re just educated now.
“If this is the Jurassic Park, then all I can tell you is I’m ready to go wrestle with ol’ T-Rex.”
All of the Final Four pros fishing the Championship Round had heard of Jurassic Park. The lake is always a hot topic among pros when the national tours swing through Florida in in the wintertime. Some pros, like Skeet Reese, have even sampled “The Park.”
“Several years ago I was at Okeechobee or Toho for an event and drove over here to fish half a day,” Reese recalled. “I didn’t catch any giants, but I did catch some five pounders; it’s a really fun place to fish.”
“The one problem we have today, though, is this cold front,” Reese said as he snugged his zipper up under his chin. “When you get a cold blast this far south, it really shuts these Florida bass off.”
After a warm, balmy Championship week, a crisp cold front did push its way through South Florida over night. The morning temperatures had dipped back down to the high 40’s with a pesky north wind nipping at anglers and crew.
The chill, however, didn’t dampen Mike Iaconelli’s spirits.
“Jurassic Park!” he exclaimed upon being handed a map. “Really? This is awesome! I’ve heard a lot about this place but had no idea its real name was Kenansville. I’ve always heard it called Jurassic Park. I’ve heard plenty of stories about giants coming out of here, but I’ve also heard it’s not quite the fishery it was a few years ago, mostly due to fishing pressure. The catch-and-release policy is awesome, but bass also get smart really fast.”
“I wish we could have fished here a couple of days ago when it was still warm,” he lamented. “Severe fronts like this knock these Florida bass for a loop. I’m afraid we might not experience the best of Jurassic Park today with these bright skies and that cold north wind.
“Either way, I’m pumped because I’ve made it to the Championship Round in Florida! That’s huge for me. Florida and I have never gotten along, but if I win this MLF World Championship today, it would be a heck of peace offering – I might actually start really liking Florida!
In the next boat over, Greg Hackney was quietly looking at his map and didn’t have much to say about his final destination for the Championship Round.
“Given the direction we went when we left the hotel this morning, I really thought they were going to put us on Okeechobee,” Hackney offered. “But if this is the Jurassic Park, then all I can tell you is I’m ready to go wrestle with ol’ T-Rex.”