John's Journal...

Kevin VanDam's 11th B.A.S.S. Tournament Victory

Day One of the B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On the last weekend in April, 2007, even with one day cancelled due to bad weather at the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Tournament at Lake Guntersville in Alabama, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, pulled off a win, earning $100,000. This year’s win was VanDam’s 11th B.A.S.S. Tournament victory and his 67th, top-10 career finish. This week, we’ll look at how VanDam found and caught the bass, lost the fish and relocated them to win the tournament. You’ll see the strategy that’s required to win a big-league bass tournament, and how to apply techniques to win like a pro.

Question: Kevin, what happened on the first day of the tournament? Click to enlarge
VanDam: When I arrived at the first two or three places I’d planned to fish, I learned that a lot of other fishermen had also located those areas. I didn’t get any bites at the first two spots I’d planned to fish, so I went to my obscure fishing sites much earlier than I’d planned. When I made the decision to go to my out-of-the-way, hidden regions, I caught three or four bass fairly quickly. So, I continued working that spot until I got a limit of keeper-sized bass. I caught a total of 17 pounds fishing my spinner bait and ripping my crankbait through the grass. I felt pretty good about having caught my limit, but I knew that simply having a limit wouldn’t win that tournament. I needed to catch big bass. I started running some of the small spots I’d programmed into my GPS on my depth finder. I caught a couple of good bass on one of those spots and finished the first day with 21 pounds of bass, placing me in third place.

Click to enlargeQuestion: Kevin, how do you feel mentally when you go to places you’ve planned to fish on the first day, and you see other anglers sitting there?
VanDam: In a bass tournament, you always have to adjust. I’m fishing against the best anglers in the world, and I know that most of them won’t miss the subtle spots other fishermen will miss. However, the real secret is to know where the best spot on the site is, or even better, know the pattern on the pattern. Most of the guys at Guntersville were fishing a large hump or a big point and fishing all the way around that area. But as I went down the lake on the first day, I could see that many of the contestants were dialed-in on the subtle places I’d found. This year was completely different from last year, when very few fishermen dialed-in to the shad spawn. This year, every angler knew what to look for and where to fish. I knew that when I found bass, I’d have to bear down and fish hard to catch every bass I could at each site I’d located on my GPS. I’ve learned on Lake Guntersville that when I workClick to enlarge through an area and finally get a bass to bite, I usually can catch three or four lunkers at that same spot. So, I methodically worked those key places. The bass in this lake move a lot. One day, there may be current through the lake, and the next day, there may be no current. This current affects where the bass will hold and whether or not they’ll bite. The bass roam up and down the ledges. Once I locate them, I make the most of each opportunity. I knew I needed to catch three or four large bass quickly on each spot I hit. I knew I wouldn’t get many bites at the place I was fishing, but that the bites I got would be from quality bass.

Question: How many of your key spots had other anglers on them the first day?
VanDam: I didn’t keep a running tally, but two other boats pulled up on the first site I’d planned to start fishing. But this was a textbook spot, so I knew there would probably be a few men fishing there. The first day, I decided to catch a few bites off the area I called “community spots.” Fishing those community spots didn’t work out for me, so I had to move to more-subtle areas.

Tomorrow: Day Two of the B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam's 11th B.A.S.S. Tournament Victory"

Day 1: Pre-Practice at Lake Guntersville
Day 2: Day One of the B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament
Day 3: Day Two of the B.A.S.S. Elite Tournament
Day 4: The Final Day
Day 5: More with Kevin VanDam



Entry 405, Day 2