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Kevin VanDam Does It Again and Wins Angler of the Year for 2008

There’s No Such Thing as Slumps

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: There’s no more-coveted prize in all of tournament bass fishing than winning BASS Angler of the Year. “This is probably the most difficult of all the goals an angler can achieve,” says Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, after winning his fourth Angler of the Year title in 2008, while fishing the Elite Series with 200 of the best bass fishermen in the world, the Angler of the Year must score the most points based on his finish in 11 tournaments. This year VanDam won two tournaments and finished in the money in all but one tournament, amassing right at $500,000 in tournament winnings for the year. The Angler-of-the-Year check for $250,000 put his total tournament winnings on the BASS circuit to date at over $3 million, making VanDam the first bass fisherman to ever break the $3-million mark in tournament winnings.

Question: Kevin, how many Classics have you fished?
VanDam: The 2009 Classic will be my 19th Classic in a row.

Question: You’ve won two of them, right?Click to enlarge
VanDam: Yes, I have. I never take qualifying for the Classic for granted. Every year it gets harder to make it to the Classic. I’ve had a lot of success out there on tour, but the Classic is the biggest event of the tournament season. This year, the Classic will be in Shreveport, Louisiana, and this is a shallow-water fishery where spinner baits, crankbaits and jigs really can pay off. That’s my style of fishing, so I’m really looking forward to that Classic.

Question: Kevin, quite a few people know when you win a tournament, become Angler of the Year or win a Bassmaster Classic, those are true victories in the sport of bass fishing. What everybody doesn’t know is that Kevin VanDam also has bad days and bad tournaments. What are some of the setbacks you had this season?
VanDam: My biggest disappointment this year was the tournaments when we fished Lake Falcon in Zapata, Texas, and Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Tex. These are two of the best big-bass lakes in the nation, and I had a mediocre finish at Falcon and came in somewhere in the 40s. I finished 53rd at Amistad and missed the cut to get a check. I really expected to do well on both of these lakes, but I lost a few key fish, and I didn’t perform at the level I expected of myself. These are two lakes I have a lot of confidence in, and both of these lakes have always produced well for my style of fishing. Not doing well in those two tournaments wasn’t easy for me to take. I start competing for Angler of the Year on the first day of the first tournament and coming out of Texas with two really-poor showings was a real slap in the face for me.

Question: Kevin, when you hit a slump like that, how do you get over it?
VanDam: I don’t believe in slumps. There’s no such thing as a slump. I’ve learned a long time ago that it’s okay to worry about variables that you can control. But when a tournament’s over and done with, Click to enlargeit doesn’t really matter if you’ve won or finished dead last. There’s nothing you can do to change the results, so it’s not worth worrying about. Instead, I do all I can to prepare for the next tournament. I think one of the things thatreally has helped me this year is my ability to forget yesterday and concentrate on tomorrow. I try to have a fresh mindset with a positive attitude the day after a disaster.

Question: Kevin, for the last 8 to 12 years, you’ve been hot as a baked potato right out of the oven. How long can you keep up the intensity and high level of performance that it takes to win Angler of the Year or even compete for that title?
VanDam: That’s a really-good question. I don’t know what the future holds, but I can tell you I’m not retiring this year for sure. You know I turn 40 this year. While I’m not really excited about that, I still feel pretty good. I think that with age and experience comes a lot of wisdom. More so than ever, I’ve learned to study myself and really analyze my strengths and weaknesses as a fisherman. I think just now I’m learning to capitalize more on knowing myself than I ever have in the past. I’ve learned that I can’t go into every tournament knowing for certain I’m going to win it. I’ve learned that that’s self defeating. But I’ve learned that if I go into every tournament with the attitude that I’m going to fish the very best I can fish, and that I’m going to eliminate as many mistakes as I can, then I can usually come out with a respectable finish and move on to the next tournament.

Question: Kevin, what’s in the future for you and Strike King lures?Click to enlarge
VanDam: Every year I seem to get more-deeply involved in developing lures for Strike King. The management and research team at Strike King are all fishermen. And that’s what I like about the company. The management and research team understand why tournament fishermen need certain lures a certain way. And they’re always willing to help us develop a better mousetrap to catch more bass. They always try and help us to get the very best baits we can possibly have to compete with. We’ve learned that just having a good lure isn’t good enough. We want our baits to be perfect and Strike King is willing to put up with us (its pro staff) until we’re satisfied that we’ve created a bait that’s as perfect as we can make it.

Question: You and the other Strike King pros have developed a tremendous number of lures. Are there still new ideas to be discovered and new techniques for catching bass to be learned?
VanDam: I keep thinking that sooner or later we’ll run out of ideas and new techniques. But amazingly every year we’re able to discover new lures, colors and new trends in the market and sometimes some of the old techniques that have worked in the past have a rebirth. I think that developing new lures is a never-ending cycle, because you can always make a lure a little bit different or modify it a little bit more to make it produce more bass.

To learn more about Strike King’s top-quality lures, go to

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam Does It Again and Wins Angler of the Year for 2008"

Day 1: Stay Confident, Trust Your Instincts and Fish Strike King Crankbaits  
Day 2: Know What Works for You and Be Ready to Change
Day 3: New Ways to Rig the Red Eye Shad and Shadalicious
Day 4: Strike King Pros Work Together to Build Better Lures
Day 5: There’s No Such Thing as Slumps


Entry 470, Day 5