John's Journal...

Kevin VanDam Wins $200,000 and the 2009 Angler-of-the-Year Title

How and Where I Found the Bass at the Alabama River That Helped Me Win

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On September 18, 2009, Strike King Pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, not only won his second consecutive Angler-of-the-Year title with BASS, he also observed,Click to enlarge ”This title was the hardest I ever won for sure.” This year was the first that BASS had a post-season tournament to determine the winner of Angler of the Year. The tournament consisted of two events, back to back, and VanDam had to come from behind against what seemed almost-insurmountable odds to pull off the win. Going into this tournament, VanDam was one point ahead of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Skeet Reese, for the 2009 Angler-of-the-Year title. VanDam also had to compete against 10 more of the best bass fishermen in the world from the 2009season. This week VanDam will tell us what happened, and how he won.

Question: The next tournament took place on the nearby Alabama River, which had dramatically different fishing from Lake Jordan. What had you learned from practice on the Alabama River?
VanDam: The Alabama River is a river system, and we were getting a lot of rain in the area. So, there was current coming through the river, and the river was rising. In practice, I was Click to enlargecatching bass on the sandbars and the flats of the main river, the inside bends of the river and the mouths of creeks. If I could find places like these with some current hitting the flats, then I knew I could find the spotted bass set-up there, ready to feed on the shad. I was catching these bass in really-shallow water – just the opposite from the way I’d Click to enlargefished at Lake Jordan to catch bass. Some of the bass I was catching were holding in less than 1 foot of water.

Question: What were you catching your bass on in practice at the Alabama River?
VanDam: I was catching the bass on Strike King’s Sexy Shad spinner bait and the Series 1 crankbait in the Sexy Shad pattern. On the deeper points, I was catching bass on a Series 5 crankbait. I found a few areas with some better-quality bass on them, and I realized those were the places I’d have to concentrate on during the Alabama River tournament if I had a chance to win.

Question: What size spinner bait were you fishing, Kevin?
VanDam: I was fishing a 3/8-ounce KVD Pro Model spinner bait with double willow-leaf blades on it. I was using a Quantum KVD spinner bait special rod, which was a 6-foot, 10- inch length, a Quantum KVD reel and 20-pound test Bass Pro monofilament. 

Tomorrow: Fishing Shallow and Using Caffeine to Win at the Alabama River

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam Wins $200,000 and the 2009 Angler-of-the-Year Title"

Day 1: Kevin VanDam Couldn’t Keep the Bass Hooked on Day One at Lake Jordan
Day 2: A Hill Too High to Climb
Day 3: How and Where I Found the Bass at the Alabama River That Helped Me Win
Day 4: Fishing Shallow and Using Caffeine to Win at the Alabama River
Day 5: VanDam Found the Mountain Wasn’t Too High to Climb, If He Didn’t Quit


Entry 528, Day 3