John's Journal...

Tournament Fishing with Kevin VanDam

Critical Factors to Success - GPS and Wind

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, currently ranks number 29 on the B.A.S.S. trail, and led in the last B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament held on Kentucky Lake in Benton, Kentucky, for two out of the four days of the tournament. This week we’ll learn how VanDam found, caught and lost fish, and what elements caused him to drop from first to third place. We’ll also learn how to find and catch bass in the summer by following VanDam through the tournament and learning why he made the decisions he made. This week, you’ll be able to get inside the head of Kevin VanDam and learn what makes him tick.

Question: What was different about the places you were fishing from the spots everyone else was fishing?
VanDam: I was fishing my places thoroughly and trying to pinpoint the exact spot there where the bass really wanted to relate. Some Click to enlargeof the places I was fishing might only be as big as your boat. When you were talking about fishing in the middle of the Tennessee River, which might be 1/2-mile or more from bank to bank, finding a little productive place like that could be difficult. Once I found those bass holding on a spot like that, I made good notes on how to line up on that site with structure on the bank and with my GPS so that I could make the exact cast I needed to trigger the strike.

Question: Kevin, how accurate is your GPS?
VanDam: The new GPS’s are right on the money. The receivers in them and the technology are so good that you can get right on a spot that may not be any bigger than the hood of your truck. Today’s GPS’s are very accurate.

Question: Kevin, how many places did you find and identify that you needed to fish?Click to enlarge
VanDam: I had more spots than I could go to in one day. I had more than 100 coordinates, but I felt very confident about 15 or 20 of them.

Question: Kevin, after you fished a spot with a Series 6 crankbait and with a jig, did you fish that same place with another lure?
VanDam: Generally I’d try the big swim bait and the big worm on the spot, but I quickly learned that I was better off leaving a spot and going to another one if I couldn’t catch the bass on the Series 6 crankbait or the Pro-Model jig.

Question: Did you return to any of the places where you’d caught fish earlier and re-fish them?
VanDam: Sure I did. Some of the places where I was catching fish, I’d already fished three or four times that day. I could be at that spot at the same time a school of bass would pull up on that spot and start to feed. I knew that when ledge-fishing in the summertime, my timing would be critical. I defined timing as realizing what was happening around you in the environment when you caught bass on that spot the first time. For instance, if the wind was blowing a certain direction when I caught bass on a spot, and then the wind changed and blew from a different direction and I didn’t catch bass there, then I would think whenever I had a wind blowing from the right direction, to make those bass active on that spot, I needed to go back and fish it again. Throughout this tournament, I found this type of timing to be deadly effective. Click to enlargeDuring the first and second days of the tournament, I didn’t start catching bass until later in the morning. Later in the day, when the wind started blowing, I could pull up to some of those places where I’d caught bass when the wind was blowing and really hammer the bass.

Question: Many people don’t consider the effect of the wind on a fishing spot when they’re in the middle of a lake. If they’re fishing down the bank, they know the wind can muddy-up the shoreline and turn bass on or off. Most of us don’t know that the wind has an effect on deep-water fish in the middle of the lake. Why do you think the wind is so critical for productive summertime fishing on ledges in the middle of a lake?
VanDam: The wind’s always a good thing as far as causing the bass to become active, especially in the summer. It creates current and moves plankton, and when the plankton’s moved, the shad move, which is what bass eat. I really believe that the wind activates the entire food chain on the lake. The wind can have just as big an effect on deep-water bass as it can on shallow water bass.

Tomorrow: From Goat to Hero – Day 1

Check back each day this week for more about " Tournament Fishing with Kevin VanDam"

Day 1: How It All Began
Day 2:Critical Factors to Success - GPS and Wind
Day 3: From Goat to Hero – Day 1
Day 4: From Goat to Hero – Day 2
Day 5: From Goat to Hero – Last Day


Entry 358, Day 2