John's Journal...

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

The Second Day of Competition

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 weather conditions, and he’s not afraid tofish any bait.

Click to enlargeQuestion: What happened on the second day of competition?
VanDam: The order of launch was reversed on the second day of competition. Instead of being the second boat to leave the launch site, I was the next-to-last boat to leave. I knew I wouldn’t get the first choices of place to fish. There were a lot of competitors in the section I’d been fishing, and everyone had seen that the leaders in the tournament were fishing in the same spot upriver. As soon as I reached the section I wanted to fish, I saw that there were more boats where I wanted to fish than there had been on the previous day. The current flow had slowed down and the water level had dropped. The current many of the places where I was catching fish had changed, too, so I had to switch my tactics.

I fished for about an hour before I caught my first bass. However, thatClick to enlarge first fish weighed about 3 pounds. With the current slower than what it had been before, the bass were less active.  I had to fish a slower bait to get bites. I turned to my Strike King jig and caught a really-nice fish. Late in the afternoon, with only a couple more hours to fish, I only had a couple of fish in the live well, which was one fish short of the limit. I finally caught a 5-1/2-pounder. I knew that this fish should allow me to make the final-12 cut. I fished really comfortably the last 2 hours of the tournament and caught 16 pounds for the day.

Question: What did you catch your 5 pounder on, Kevin?
VanDam: I caught it on a Strike King Series 1 crankbait on a shallow-rock jetty in about 1 foot or less of water. I was really shocked when the bass bit the bait. The water was pouring over the top of this jetty, so I wClick to enlargeas cranking in little channels and cuts where shad would run, if they washed over the top of the jetties. Bass usually will sit in these little cuts with their noses right in the current, waiting for those baitfish. So, when I threw that Series 1 crankbait up in that cut and brought it through the cut, I was really surprised that there was a bass that big holding in that spot. When I hooked it, the bass swam immediately out to deep water, and I was able to land it.

Question: What place were you in on the second day?
VanDam: I’d moved up to fourth place and made the 12 cut.

Question: What were you thinking about that night?
VanDam: I knew that the next day we’d be fishing in a big creek off the river, and all 12 of us would be fishing the same 12 holes. There was no current there. I couldn’t use anything I learned the first two days and in practice to fish in this creek. I’d fished there twice before, and on the last practice day before the tournament started, I’d spent a couple of hours riding the course and looking at where I might discover bass, if I made the top-12 cut. That knowledge helped a lot when I finally did make the top-12 cut.

Tomorrow: The Third Day of the 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 3