John's Journal...

Kevin VanDam's $200,000 Strike King Lure

And the Crowd Went Wild

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On June 24, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, won his second Bassmaster’s Elite Series event of the year at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. VanDam finished with a four-day tournament total of 78 pounds, 12 ounces, beating out Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Oklahoma, by almost 4 pounds. This victory, VanDam’s 12th, adds another $100,000 to his career earnings of nearly $2.5 million, making him the B.A.S.S. all-time money leader. The victory also propelled VanDam to the top of the standings for the title of Bassmaster Angler-of-the-Year. The same lure VanDam used to win the Elite Series tournament on Lake Guntersville produced another win for him at Grand Lake. The new crankbait VanDam designed, Strike King’s Sexy Shad, is a prototype, but should be in dealer’s stores by fall. Because of the publicity this lure already has and will receive, many dealers have a waiting list of fishermen who want to buy the lure as soon as it arrives in stores. This week, we’ll look at how VanDam won another $100,000 tournament.

Question: You were in the lead on the second day of the tournament. What happened when you left the launch site to begin your day of fishing?
VanDam: I had all the spectators following me – an armada of 50 to 55 boats behind me everywhere I went.

Click to enlargeQuestion: What did you do about the wave action from that many boats crashing the waves and spooking the fish?
VanDam: Although there were large numbers of spectators, they were respectful. When I slowed-down, they slowed-down and stayed away from me. I’m accustomed to having spectators follow me, but that many folks creates a challenge when I prepare to leave a spot. Finding a place to take off from without running over another boat often can be a problem.

Question: On the second day of competition, were there many contestants close to you in 1st place?
VanDam: There was a 20-pound string and several 19-pound strings right up there with me.

Question: What was the first place you fished?
VanDam: My first stop was the point where I’d caught so many good bass the previous day. When I reached the area, there was another competitor sitting there, fishing my ugly point, which shocked me because I hadn’t seen anyone on that point the previous day. I left that section without fishing and went to another place I hadn’t fished the first day of the tournament – a site I’d saved until I needed it. I made six or eight casts and didn’t get a bite. Click to enlargeI caught a couple of short fish, and then the bass really turned on to the Sexy Shad. On the next 10 casts, I caught eight bass that weighed a total of 18 or 19 pounds, with my biggest fish weighing about 5 pounds. After catching that good bag of bass, I started fishing some of the places I’d fished the first day of the tournament, trying to raise my stringer weight. Finally, at noon, I caught a 4 pounder that let me replace one of the2 pounders I had in my live well. After I caught that 4 pounder, I pretty-much quit for the rest of the day. I went to some places I’d never fished before and fished for 4 hours. At the weigh-in, my catch weighed 21 pounds, and I still was in the lead. I went to bed that night feeling good. My game plan was working, my spots were paying off, the little ugly points continued to produce a good limit of bass early in the morning, and then I had the rest of each day to find a kicker fish. Life was good.

Question: Did you ever change baits from the Sexy Shad?
VanDam: Yes, I did. I used the Strike King Series 5 crankbait in the Sexy Shad color on the shallow points, but when I was working the ends of the points in deeper water, I’d fish a Strike King Series 6 in the Sexy Shad color. Over the course of the four-day tournament, I caught quite a few fish on that Series 6 crankbait. I caught 75% of my bass on the Series 5 and about 25% on the Series 6. 

Question: Did you have the Sexy Shad color in both the Series 5 and the Series 6 crankbaits?
VanDam: That’s right. I’ve gotten that paint job put on every crankbait StrikeClick to enlarge King makes. The Sexy Shad color has proven in two-major tournaments when I’ve been competing against the best bass fishermen in the nation that it can bring home the money. Why won’t I fish it?

Question: How did you come up with that Sexy Shad color? What made you think this color pattern was so good, and why do you think it’s earned you $200,000 in two tournaments?
VanDam: I think the Sexy Shad is a good-looking shad color. In many lakes, shad are the primary forage for bass. That’s the reason we have a wide variety of shad colors and patterns in the Strike King crankbaits and spinner baits. Strike King has Tennessee shad, Gizzard shad, Red Eye shad and many other shad patterns on their lures. Some of those patterns are really natural, and some are so loud they scream at you. Basically, I choose shad-colored lures depending on the color of the water I’m fishing. I like the way the Sexy Shad color flashes in the water. The color is very natural, and even in dirty water, bass don’t have a problem finding and eating it. One reason I like this color so much, besides having 200,000 other reasons (dollars) that have convinced me I can depend on this color pattern when I’m fishing in major tournaments, is that I’ve caught many bass on it. I have a lot of confidence in this color, I’ve developed it, it looks good in and out of the water, and $200,000 says the bass like it, too.

Tomorrow: When the Sky Cried

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam's $200,000 Strike King Lure"

Day 1: Look For the Hidden Spot
Day 2: Here Come the Crowds
Day 3: And the Crowd Went Wild
Day 4: When the Sky Cried
Day 5: Winning Day



Entry 411, Day 3