John's Journal...

Kevin VanDam Breaks the $3 Million All-Time Career Winnings Mark at the 2008 Kentucky Lake Elite Event

The Final Day of the Tournament

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Kevin VanDam won the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Event at Kentucky Lake, taking home a payday of $100,000 plus. He also moved past the $3 million mark in all-time career winnings on the BASS circuit. The week before this win in mid-June, he finished second-place at Wheeler Lake in Alabama. Apparently, that second-place finish fired him up and gave him the secret tactics and weapons he needed to win at Kentucky Lake.

Question: Did you think that the spots you fished on Day 3 would hold up during the last day of competition?
VanDam: I wasn’t sure, but I knew the spectators who followed me would be fishing those places. I had four or five schools of bass I hadn’t fished yet, that I planned to fish the last day. So, I thought I had plenty of fish to catch. However, that plan didn’t work out, and the last day of fishing was very slow. I caught a few small bass to begin with, and as I ran through the different schools on those spots I haClick to enlargedn’t yet fished during the tournament, I noticed that the fish previously on those places were gone. I finally came to one site holding numbers of bass. I caught a 3-pounder and a 2-1/2-pounder. Then, I jumped off 4-pound and 3-1/2-pound bass on consecutive casts.

Next, I put down the crankbait and picked up the jig. I caught one more bass for a 12- to 13-pound limit. This last day was tough for me. I couldn’t seem to hit the right place where bass were holding and hit it at the time when they had just moved to that spot. Timing is critical when bass are holding on spots like the ones I was running. If shad are on the ledges, bass will hold there. If there are no shad, the bass won’t concentrate and the spots that were hot the day before will become as dead as yesterday’s mackerel. But I continued to run my spots, and with an hour left in the tournament, I returned to a place where bass were holding to catch 3- and 4- pounders on consecutive casts. Then I could cull my fish. I had a 1Click to enlarge5- to 16-pound stringer at the end of the day, which was enough to pull out a win before running out of time. Tim Horton had a great day of fishing, and moved into second place.

Question: Could you tell that Tim Horton was catching numbers of fish and had a good chance to take the lead?
VanDam: Tim had 22 pounds the day before where I had 23 pounds. I saw him many times and knew we were both catching lots of fish.

Question: Other than the $100,000 in prize money, what did winning this tournament mean to you?
VanDam: This tournament was a big deal, especially because it was held on Father’s Day. I’d been gone for 2 weeks and hadn’t seen my boys. I like to fish on Kentucky Lake because I believe I’m a pretty-good structure fisherman. Also, I’ve always felt like I should’ve won the tournament there 2-years ago and didn’t. I felt like I gave that last one away and I wanted a chance to make up for it.

Question: This win puts you in the lead for Angler of the Year by about 60 points. Where do you fish your next tournament?
Van Dam: The next tournament is on Lake Old Hickory in Kentucky. The tournament in Iowa was cancelled because of the flood and rescheduled at Old Hickory.

Click to enlargeQuestion: How will Old Hickory fish for you?
VanDam: It should fish like Kentucky Lake. I plan to use most of the same lures I used on Kentucky Lake. Lake Old Hickory has grass on it. I definitely believe there will be an offshore-structure bite on Old Hickory, so I plan to use many various lures, the lures I’ve become so familiar with during the last three tournaments.

Question: Have you been surprised at how strong the Sexy Spoon is?
VanDam: No, not really. I saw how deadly this lure was 2-years ago when Kelly Jordan first began fishing it. In a lake like Kentucky Lake that contains so-many big fish, the Strike King Sexy Spoon is a great bait to use. Kelly Jordan did well in this tournament using a spoon. The Sexy Spoon attracts bass that are suspended off the bottom, and I think the Sexy Spoon is hard to beat at this time of year when so many bass are suspended. If bass are holding on the bottom, the Series 6 in the sexy shad or the Football Head jig is often a better tool. With the Sexy Spoon, the bass either want the lure or absolutely don’t want it. There’s one thing for sure. I’ll never again fish an offshore spot without throwing a Sexy Spoon to that spot before I leave it. That bait is great for triggering strikes for big bass. If you’ll be offshore fishing this year, try the Sexy Spoon on your spots.

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam Breaks the $3 Million All-Time Career Winnings Mark at the 2008 Kentucky Lake Elite Event"

Day 1: Practicing for the Tournament
Day 2: The First Day of the Tournament
Day 3: The Second Day of the Tournament
Day 4: The Third Day of the Tournament
Day 5: The Final Day of the Tournament


Entry 462, Day 5