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Bass Tournaments How to Win Them with Bass Angler Kevin VanDam

How to Make Sure You Can Win by Capitalizing On Opportunities 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’s another important ingredient, if a fisherman intends to win a bass-fishing tournament?
VanDam: Capitalize on the opportunities you have to win. This goes back to day 2 – preparing your equipment and having it organized, so that when you have the opportunity to win, and the bass are biting, every piece of equipment from the third hook on your treble hook to the end of your line is tuned-up and ready to help you win. I’m a fanatic about my hooks and my line. I change my line every night after a competition day. If I fish with a rod for more than a few minutes, I’ll change the line on that rod and reel that night. Line is a variable I can control. I want to have fresh, strong line without nicks and line that I know when I set the hook, it won’t break, and it will perform at its maximum potential to help me land the bass. I’m constantly changing crankbait hooks. If you’re fishing ledges, wood or any other type of cover where your hook will come in contact with anything besides the water and the fish’s mouth, check your hooks every time you take your crankbait out of the water. If you have the crankbait digging the bottom, those hook points can get dull or become less sharp than a new hook, especially when you’re fishing areas with really-rough bottoms. When I’m fishing this type of area, I may change my hooks eight or 10 times in one day. Every night, I’ll change my hooks.Click to enlarge

A couple of years ago, Click to enlargeI was fishing a tournament at Grand Lake and catching the bass on a Series 5 crankbait. Most of the bass I caught came from shallow rocks. The Series 5 crankbait runs 10-feet deep, and I was fishing in 4 to 8 feet of water, grinding the rocks with that crankbait and reeling it really fast with a high-speed retrieve. Those rocks were causing damage to the hooks on my crankbaits. So, I changed hooks at least 12 to 15 times a day. The tournament was so close that at the end of the tournament, if I’d lost one of those big bass, I probably wouldn’t have won the tournament. If I hadn’t changed the hooks and checked the sharpness of those hooks, I would have lost one of those bass.

During a day of bass fishing, you only will get a certain number of bites and even fewer big-bass bites, which probably will determine whether you win or lose the event. Now, by knowing that your hooks will get dull, and your line will get nicked in many of the rough spots you have to fish to catch big bass to win, you’ll need fresh line and sharp hooks every time a lure goes into the water. Yes, you have to give up a few seconds to change hooks and re-tie lures. That’s the reason learning to change hooks and re-tie lures on your lines quickly is important. When that big bass bites, I want to know I have the sharpest hooks I possibly can have on my lures and the strongest line, so I can take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to me to win.

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 5