John's Journal...

Victory from Defeat with Kevin VanDam on Lake Dardanelle

:Start Thinking about Tomorrow and Solving Problems In the Middle of the Disaster

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If we learn how tournament fishermen achieve success consistently, we’ll be able to take those lessons and use them to reach success in our family and work lives every day. At the 2009 BASS Elite Series tournament held on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas, March 26-29, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, demonstrated how to deal with adversity, what to do when you’re in the middle of a crisis, and how never giving up can lead to victory. We’ll learn how VanDam has become one of the most-successful bass fishermen, as well as an accomplished businessman and family man. We all experience struggles, but how we deal with them dramatically impacts our success.

Question: Kevin, your troubles didn’t end at the end of this tournament. The day after the tournament on Lake Dardanelle ended, practice days started on Wheeler Lake in North Alabama for the next tournament in the 2009 BASS Elite Series. You still had a blown engine and a long drive to reach Wheeler, and you had to start practicing in preparation for the next scheduled tournament. What did you do?
VanDam: I left on Sunday night after the Dardanelle tournament ended on Sunday afternoon in Arkansas to drive to Wheeler. When my engine blew, I got on my cell phone and called the service man at Nitro who taClick to enlargekes care of the problems of the Elite Series fishermen while they’re in competition. He bought me my back-up boat, and as soon as he returned to the ramp with my boat, he left for Decatur, Ala., where the Wheeler tournament would be held. I don’t know what he did or who he talked to, but he had my engine fixed and ready to roll the first thing on Monday morning. I’ve learned that when you’re in the middle of a disaster with nothing to do, you still can start solving problems. I knew I had the tournament coming on Monday, I needed my motor fixed, and I knew the people from Nitro could solve that problem as well as bring me a back-up boat. So, while I was dead in the water, I started trying to solve the problems I could see in front of me.

Question: What did you do with the back-up boat, since the Nitro technician had taken your boat to Decatur?
VanDam: I trailered the back-up boat with my fishing equipment in it to Decatur and planned to fish out of it, if my engine wasn’t fixed. But I didn’t have to do that. On Monday morning, I put my equipment back in my boat and went out to practice.

Question: What did you learn from the tournament at Lake Dardanelle?Click to enlarge
VanDam: At the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, I had learned that if cold weather was predicted in the forecast, you needed a back-up plan before the cold front hit. So, I took that knowledge and developed a cold-weather back-up plan for the Lake Dardanelle tournament because I knew cold weather was expected. That plan worked-out and helped me fish well in the Lake Dardanelle tournament. I’d made the mistake of not having a back-up plan in the past and remembered it after not performing as well as I should have at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. So, I spent some of my practice time at Lake Dardanelle finding and developing a back-up plan in case I needed it.

Question: On the last day of the Lake Dardanelle tournament, what bait did you use to catch the bass on the stumps?
VanDam: I was fishing a green-pumpkin-colored Strike King Rodent with an 8-ounce sinker, flipping it to the stumps, the trees and other wood cover. I used 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line with a 7-foot, 4-inch Quantum Tour Edition PT heavy-action rod and a 7.0:1Click to enlarge gear ratio Quantum PT Tour Edition Burner reel.

Question: On one of the worst days of fishing that any angler could imagine, you still caught 20 pounds of bass and won more than $20,000. What advice would you give our readers who might be weekend or club-tournament fishermen on how to handle a disaster when you go fishing?
VanDam: You can’t get flustered and throw a hissy fit - throwing around your equipment and having a tantrum - when bad things happen. That doesn’t change any thing. You’ll lose big fish, and you’ll have fish that possibly could win a tournament come off your hook. When things happen that are out of your control, stop what you’re doing, sit down, think about what’s happened and what you need to do next, and make logical decisions without illogical emotions. Think about what you can do to make the most out of what you have. Sometimes you can’t overcome misfortune, disappointment or other disasters. But I’ve learned that a lot of times if you’ll tough out that situation and concentrate on your next move, you still can have a good day and do well.

Check back each day this week for more about "Victory from Defeat with Kevin VanDam on Lake Dardanelle"

Day 1: What I Learned in Practice
Day 2: The First Day of Competition
Day 3: The Second Day of Competition
Day 4: Final Day of Competition – When All Hell Breaks Loose
Day 5: Start Thinking about Tomorrow and Solving Problems In the Middle of the Disaster


Entry 504, Day 5