John's Journal...

Catch Deep Summer Bass with Kevin VanDam’s New Strike King Series 6 XD Crankbait

Day Three of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of America’s top bass fishermen, has solved a major hot-weather bass-fishing problem for all of us.  When the weather’s too hot to breathe, a new lure that VanDam has designed – the Strike King Series 6XD crankbait – will help us catch bass holding on deep ledges. In 2008, on Kentucky Lake, VanDam needed a crankbait to dive 18- to 20-feet deep to win. But getting a crankbait down that deep is pointless unless the crankbait has the right wobble and will run true Click to enlargeto attract bass on deep-water ledges during hot summer months. So, VanDam worked with the Strike King lure designers to develop a new crankbait that would deliver the performance he needed for the June, 2009 BASS Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee. VanDam was willing to gamble $100,000, the first-place prize in this tournament, on this newly-designed bait. Although the Series 6 XD crankbait hadn’t yet come to the market (it should be available in August, 2009), VanDam had six or eight prototypes in factory-painted colors to use in this tournament event. This week, VanDam will tell us about the new Strike King Series 6 XD crankbait, and how he fished it in this year’s tournament on Kentucky Lake.

Question: Kevin, what was your game plan for day 3?
VanDam: Setting up a game plan was very difficult because the bite was current- dependent. In the morning, there was rarely any current pulling through the lake. But in the afternoons, they’d start to pull current, and the bite would improve. I travelled to several-different places, often fishing the same spots twice in one day to catch bass as they pulled up on a site. On the third tournament day, I caught as many bass as Click to enlargeI did on the second day – about 22 pounds. However, on the second day, I made my only mistake in the tournament. The water was running hard, and I had a small bass die before I could reach the scales. When bass die, you can’t cull that bass. I fished one spot at the very end of the second day where I caught all the bass I weighed-in. On that area, I threw a 3-3/4-pound bass back that if I’d kept could have advanced my place in the tournament. But I couldn’t keep the bass because of the one small, 2-1/2-pound bass that died. I took an 8-ounce penalty for that. This is the reason I didn’t have a 24- or a 25-pound limit on the second day. Click to enlarge

I decided not to visit this same spot on the third day, but instead save that section until the last day because no one had seen me fish there. To catch bass in this spot, there had to be a lot of current coming down the river. The third day was full of current. By the time I had 21 or 22 pounds in my live well, I realized I’d had a large number of spectators around me. I made a decision not to return to that spot, even though the current was running. Instead, I opted to save that place until the last day. If I went to that big-bass hole, the spectators would wear it out when I left. I decided to save it for the final tournament day. If I could fish this tournament over, on that third day, I would have gone to that big-bass spot and worn it out.

Question: How critical is managing your fishing spots during a tournament?
VanDam: The difference between winning and losing most fishing tournaments depends on the decisions you make about when to fish in the places where you think you’ll catch the biggest bass. If I’d visited one of my best spots on the third day, I may have won.

Tomorrow: Final Day of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament

Check back each day this week for more about "Catch Deep Summer Bass with Kevin VanDam’s New Strike King Series 6 XD Crankbait"

Day 1: Practice Days with the New Strike King Series 6 XD
Day 2: Day One of the 2009 BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament
Day 3: Day Two of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament
Day 4: Day Three of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament
Day 5: Final Day of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament


Entry 515, Day 4