John's Journal...

A Look Back at Kevin VanDam's Super Elite Season

What I Learned About the King Shad this Year

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On September 16, 2007, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, finished 19th in the final Bassmasters Elite Tournament on Lake Toho in Florida, winning $10,800. He won $15,000 for the inaugural Berkley Heavyweight Award on the Elite Series, given to the angler who catches the heaviest load of bass for the first two days during the entire Elite Series season, when all 100-plus competitors fish together. Among those top competitors, VanDam’s total weight for 22 days of fishing was 381 pounds and 7 ounces, besting the 366 pounds, 5 ounces posted by runner-up, Skeet Reese of California. VanDam also finished in second place in the Angler-of-the-Year race, adding $40,000 to his winnings, giving him a total of $65,800 for the weekend. VanDam has won more than $2.5 million in prize money during his B.A.S.S. career, which is more than any other angler in the history of B.A.S.S. Also, VanDam is ranked number-one in the world of bass fishing as of September 20, 2007 by The reason VanDam is so successful is because he’s on the water every day. Click to enlargeIn every tournament he fishes, and every year he competes, he learns more about the sport of bass fishing. This week, we asked VanDam to reflect on the 2007 season, and tell us what he’s learned, what tackle aided his success, and how he fished the various lakes.

Question: Kevin, why did you rank the King Shad as the second most-important bait for you this season?
VanDam: The King Shad has a big-enough profile to entice big bass, but it’s also small enough that it doesn’t intimidate small bass. The King Shad is 4-inches long, which is the size of shad bass see every day. Even smaller bass will eat a 4-inch shad. This year, I’ve caught plenty of small non-keepers, but I’ve also caught a handful of 8- or 9-pound keepers on the King Shad.

Question: What color King Shad seems to work best?
VanDam: Water clarity determines what color works best. Swim baits have pretty-much been categorized as clear-water baits only. This year, however, I’ve learned that even in stained water, because the King Shad is a crankbait/swim bait, flat-sided and moves a lot of water, it really can be affective in even off-coloClick to enlargered water.

Question: What type of retrieve are you using with the King Shad, and what kind of retrieve seems to be the most effective in 2007?
VanDam: Luckily, this year, we haven’t had any pre-spawn tournaments. All our tournaments this year have been during the spawn and the post-spawn, when the water’s warming-up. This year, I’ve learned that the most-effective retrieve is a really-fast one. Of course, if I’m fishing in colder water, I’ll slow the bait down and use a slow-steady retrieve and maybe twitch it occasionally. My money retrieve this year has been to reel the bait as fast as I can, then stop it, start reeling it fast again and stop it once more. That’s how I caught my bass at Lake Amistad. I was reeling the bait really fast and stopping it around scattered bushes. I caught numbers of really-big fish using that tactic. The King Shad really looks good in the water. The real key to that bait is when you stop it, tClick to enlargehe lure sort of turns-up on its side like a dying shad. So, the King Shad looks like it’s aneasy meal for a bass to eat. I found that when I stop that bait, and it rolls to its side, the bass really unload on it.

Question: Kevin, most people don’t reel a swim bait really fast, do they?
VanDam: No, they don’t. The King Shad is the only swim bait I’ve found that you can reel really fast, and that’s why I like it so much.

Question: What colors seem to be the best for you this year in the King Shad?
VanDam: The Tennessee Shad is probably my favorite color for the King Shad. I’ve developed some new clear-water colors that are more translucent and much-more natural. You’ll be seeing them more in the future. We also have the King Shad in the Sexy Shad color. That will be a really-great color for the King Shad. You can’t overlook the bluegill pattern, which is probably my number-two choice for the King Shad. The bluegill pattern has really been good for me, especially when I’m using it in areas and on lakes where the bass are spawning. The reason the bluegill color is so productive at this time of year is because the bass are really aggressive in protecting their beds and their fry from bluegill and other predators in the lake.

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Tomorrow: Shake and Twist the Spinner Bait

Check back each day this week for more about "A Look Back at Kevin VanDam's Super Elite Season""

Day 1: Kevin VanDam – Baits to Put Bass in the Boat
Day 2: Where the Sexy Shad Originated, and Why Crankbaits Were So Important
Day 3: What I Learned About the King Shad this Year
Day 4: Shake and Twist the Spinner Bait
Day 5: A Bigger Finesse



Entry 423, Day 3