John's Journal...

What Makes the 2011 Bassmaster Classic Champion Kevin VanDam, Kevin VanDam

Day 3: Kevin VanDam on How He Learned When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em While Bass Fishing

Editor’s Note: Today, there’s not a more-dominant tournament angler in the world of bass fishing than Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan. In the last 3 years, VanDam has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles, back-to-back Bassmaster Classic titles and nine BASS event series titles. Now he’s moved to the leader in all-time career money winnings for BASS, over $5 million. How does Kevin VanDam consistently win tournaments and titles and completely dominate the sport of tournament-bass fishing? VanDam revealed his secrets of success in the press conference that followed after he won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. Each day, this week, VanDam will tell us what makes him successful, and how he has won big tournaments and become the leader in all-time career winnings in bass fishing.

Click for Larger ViewI’ve watched the world’s greatest bass fisherman, Kevin VanDam, grow-up. When I first met him, he was 17-years-old and making his first appearance on the BASS tournament trail. He was a brash, somewhat-cocky, teenager who was full of confidence in his ability to whip the best of the best in bass fishing. Even though he was a strong competitor, VanDam had his comeuppance in those early days and learned that the craft of bass fishing was best taught by the masters of the sport. In those days, the two most-dominant competitors were Rick Clunn of Ava, Missouri, and Larry Nixon of Bee Branch, Arkansas. These two, along with many other pros, became VanDam’s mentors. VanDam’s philosophy of fishing, up until the last few years, has been to make more casts, cover more water and find and catch more bass by fishing hard and fast with search baits, like spinner baits, buzzbaits and fast-moving crankbaits. But in the last few years, his philosophy has changed, and he’s spent more time learning “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.” “From getting my butt kicked in tournaments by fishermen who located big schools of bass and stayed on those spots until the bass started biting their baits, I’ve learned that the run-and-gun philosophy isn’t always the best tactic to win,” VanDam says. The 2011 Bassmaster Classic was a prime example of the importance of knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em while tournament fishing for bass. VanDam had chosen a certain area to fish where he believed the big bass would show-up, and he bet all his chances on that region and those bass.

Click for Larger ViewIn this year’s Bassmaster Classic, VanDam had one other advantage. He helped design the three baits that caught him the winning number and size of bass. The Strike King Premier Pro Model Spinner Bait has been in the Strike King product line for a long time, but VanDam added the new sexy shad color, and that’s the color that he caught his bass on the first day of the tournament. His newest inventions this year are the Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5 – both shallow-running, square-billed crankbaits. VanDam wanted crankbaits that were the size of a crankbait that normally would run in the 6- to 12-foot depths but that would run 1.5- and 2.5-feet deep. He also wanted baits that would run erratically and instead of coming straight back to the boat, would dart to the left and to the right. So, for more than 2 years, VanDam worked with the lure designers at Strike King to develop the KVD 1.5 and 2.5 crankbaits. He used these two lures during the last days of the 2011 Classic to catch the bass that won him the 2011 Bassmaster Classic title. In the video below, VanDam tells us what he learned about when to stay and when to go.

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Tomorrow: Kevin VanDam on What Makes a Great Bass Fisherman Great

Check back each day this week for more about "What Makes the 2011 Bassmaster Classic Champion Kevin VanDam, Kevin VanDam "

Day 1: Kevin VanDam on How He Chose His Winning Fishing Spot in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic
Day 2: Kevin VanDam on How He Turns Bass Fishing Pressure Into a Win When Tournament Fishing
Day 3: Kevin VanDam on How He Learned When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em While Bass Fishing
Day 4: Kevin VanDam on What Makes a Great Bass Fisherman Great
Day 5: 2011 Bassmaster Classic Winner Kevin VanDam Has the Heart of a Champion


Entry 602, Day 3