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Bass Tournaments How to Win Them with Bass Angler Kevin VanDam

You Can Convince Yourself to Lose, Even Though You Practice to Win with Kevin VanDam

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: One of the most-successful bass fishermen of our era is Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Kevin VanDam, who has won more than 100-bass tournaments in his career and the Bassmaster Classic twice and has earned the title of BASS Angler of the Year five times, including the 2009 title. VanDam will be competing for his third Bassmaster Classic win in February, 2010, on Lay Lake near Birmingham, Alabama. This week, VanDam will give us his five secrets for winning a bass tournament.Click to enlarge

Question: Kevin, what do you feel you have to do to win a tournament?
VanDam: I have to practice efficiently to find the bass and prepare to catch them. But I can’t over-practice. On the practice days, I want to establish a pattern that will produce big bass and locate a certain section of the lake where that pattern will cause big bass to bite. But I don’t want to fish every inch of the area I plan to fish on the tournament days. I really want to learn the spot or the particular place where big bass live. Bass fishing can change daily and often hourly. I’ve had a lot of tournaments where I’ve practiced thoroughly and pinpointed a spot where I know I’ll get eight to 10 bites. For instance, I may say, “Okay, the bass are really biting on these five docks in this creek on the outside corner poles of each dock. That’s where and how I have to fish to catch them.” However, the following day, those bass may have moved-up to the most-shallow corners of that dock. So, when I go out to fish, if I’m totally convinced that those outside corners are where I need to concentrate all my fishing efforts, I’ll miss the bass because they won’t be there.

Click to enlargeDuring practice, I want to know on what type of structure the bass are holding and their activity level on tournament day. One of my biggest problems with my own practice is I’ll go out and learn where and on what they’re holding and the one lure that will catch the most bass. On tournament day, as soon as I get on the water and see that the lake has risen, fallen or become a little more dirty or more clear than the day before, I may have to fish a lure I haven’t practiced with to be able to catch bass because I’ve made the adjustment to the weather and the water conditions on the day of the tournament. Regardless of what you learn in practice, you need an open mind. Read the water and the weather conditions for the day you’ll be fishing. Be willing to change, even though you may have found and caught bass the previous day on a particular lure or pattern. You have to be willing to make those types of changes, even when your subconscious is telling you,Click to enlarge “The bass were in this location and biting this particular lure yesterday. They still should be in that same location and biting the same lure today, even though the weather and the water conditions have changed.” Instead, you have to tell yourself, “Today’s a new day. I have to fish the conditions I see today and not the conditions I fished yesterday.” One of the biggest problems most of us have is trying to compete with yesterday’s water conditions and lures, instead of evaluating today’s water and weather conditions and making the appropriate change, even if it means leaving the place where we’ve caught fish and abandoning the lure that has put you at the top of the leader board. These types of decision aren’t easy. They’re hard to make and even harder to make consistently. However, to win a bass tournament, you have to fish to win every day and every hour with the conditions in front of you right then.

A bass-fishing tournament isn’t won at the end of the competition. It’s won each day, hour and second you’re on the water. Your ability to fish in the moment will win more tournaments than your depending on how you caught bass yesterday, earlier that morning or 2-hours ago. A marathon runner doesn’t win the race at the finish line. He wins the race by the decisions he makes throughout the day of the competition. A bass fisherman rarely wins a tournament in the final hour of competition. He wins the tournament before he ever reaches the lake – during the practice and the preparation for the tournament, while the tournament’s going on and with the knowledge he collects every moment he’s on the water. Yesterday’s gone, and 1 hour from now the conditions may change. So, to win a bass tournament, fish to win every moment and make those hard decisions that will give you the chance to win.

Tomorrow: How Kevin VanDam Makes the Mental Decision to Go for the Win – The Man He Learned From

Check back each day this week for more about "Bass Tournaments How to Win Them with Bass Angler Kevin VanDam"

Day 1: Win a Bass Tournament Before You Leave the House with Kevin VanDam
Day 2: Getting Your Stuff Together and Keeping It Together to Win with Kevin VanDam
Day 3: You Can Convince Yourself to Lose, Even Though You Practice to Win with Kevin VanDam
Day 4: How Kevin VanDam Makes the Mental Decision to Go for the Win – The Man He Learned From
Day 5: How to Make Sure You Can Win by Capitalizing On Opportunities with Kevin VanDam


Entry 534, Day 3