John's Journal...

Kevin VanDam Takes 3rd Place at the Bassmaster Legends Tournament on Lake Dardanelle

Lures that Catch Everything that Swims

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: In the last Bassmaster Legends tournament at Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas in late August 2007, Kevin VanDam took third place. Only one pound and a few ounces from first place, he won $29,500. Before this tournament, VanDam’s career winnings totaled $2,509,458.30, averaging $12,738.37 per tournament. He’s No. 2 in the race for the 2007 Angler-of-the-Year title, and right now, VanDam is as hot as a firecracker with his fishing. VanDam’s strengths are that he rapidly can adapt to changing water and weatheClick to enlarger conditions, and he’s not afraid to fish any bait.

Question: What flight were you in on the first day ofcompetition?
VanDam: I was the second boat to leave the launch site. Because I was in second place for the Angler-of-the-Year title, I left the launch immediately after Skeet Reese. I knew I’d reach my spot first. I made the run up the river to the place I wanted to fish.  On the way there, I decided my goal was to make the top-12 cut because after you made the top 12, all the weights would be zeroed.  Then I’d start fishing in holes like a golf course. These holes had been pre-determined by the tournament organizers.  Each of the top-12 anglers would fish each one of the 12 sites designated as a hole on the course. So, if I made the top 12, 12th place was just as good as 1st place, because we all would be fishing new water. The final course was marked off-limits until the finals. When I reached my first spot, I must have caught and a ton of bass—over 100. I was fishing primarily with Strike King baits and spinner baits.

Question: Which crankbait were you fishing?Click to enlarge
VanDam: I was fishing a Series 1, a Series 3, a Series 5, a Series 6 and a Red Eye Shad. I was also pitching a tube and flipping a jig. I was using almost every lure in my tackle box on the first day. I used whatever lure was most appropriate for the amount of current that was coming down the river at the time I was fishing and for the depth of water where I felt the fish were holding. Many times when I’d find the sweet spot where the bass were positioned, I’d fish one lure and catch fish until they stopped biting. Then I’d fish that same spot with another lure. I’d keep changing baits and catching fish. One of the secrets to catching more than one fish in the same spot is to keep changing the bait and the direction of your pole. Changing baits when you find fish is critical to continuing to catch Click to enlargebass. Throughout the entire tournament, I caught most of my bass on a crankbait in the Sexy Shad color.

There was a 15-inch size limit on largemouth and a 12-inch size limit onspotted bass, but out of that first 100 fish, I was able to catch five keepers. Out of the 100 fish I caught, 30 or 40 of them were stripers. I also caught white bass, drum, spotted bass, largemouths, bluegills, catfish and justabout every fish that swims in that lake. I learned that the Strike King crankbaits in eddy holes will catch every fish that lives there. The fish never knew what each cast would be. I had to weed through a lot of trash fish to get my limit of bass. At the end of the first day, I was 1 ounce shy of weighing in 16 pounds, putting me in 7th place. I was pretty happy with the day because I had two bass that were almost 4-1/2-pounds each. I caught one on a Red Eye Shad and the other on a Series 1 crankbait. Both fish bit the Sexy Shad color. Getting quality bites and catching quality fish really helped my stringer be much bigger and provided a little bit of cushion. I probably caught 15-keeper fish that day, so I was really confident going into the second day.

Tomorrow: The Second Day of Competition

Check back each day this week for more about "Kevin VanDam Takes 3rd Place at the Bassmaster Legends Tournament on Lake Dardanelle"

Day 1: What I Learned in Practice
Day 2: Lures that Catch Everything that Swims
Day 3: The Second Day of Competition
Day 4: The Third Day of the Competition
Day 5: What I Learned



Entry 420, Day 2