John's Journal...

A Look Back at Kevin VanDam's Super Elite Season

Shake and Twist the Spinner Bait

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 CaliforClick to enlargenia. 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 thanany 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 The reason VanDam is so successful is because he’s on the water every day. In 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, what did you learn about fishing the spinner bait this year?
VanDam: This year, I fished a bigger spinner bait than I normally would fish, which may have been because of the different lakes we fished. The 3/4-ounce size was my number-one size this year. Of course, you have to use the right size and color, depending on the conditions. At Lake Guntersville, I used the 3/4-ounce spinner bait to fish grassy underwater ledges. At Lake Amistad, I was fishing in deeper water than I normaClick to enlargelly would fish, so I used the 3/4-ounce. To make the spinner bait more effective, I downsized the rear blades from No. 5 to No. 4-1/2-blades. The smaller blade allowed the bait to sink a little bit deeper, and it enabled me to use a faster retrieve. I also liked the 3/4-ounce size because I could cast it a long distance and cover a lot of water with it. I liked that bigger spinner bait because it really felt good in the water.

QuestionClick to enlarge: What color seems to be the most productive for you?
VanDam: I fished the blue shad, which is a really-good color to imitate shad.

Question: What retrieves were the most effective for you this year?
VanDam: I rarely ever use a continuous steady retrieve. I shake the rod tip and twitch it a lot. I like to let the bait get into the cover and then rip it out. I try to make the spinner bait swim erratically. I want to make it look like a wounded shad, so I twitch it to make the skirt pulse.

Question: Did you fish the Perfect Skirt all season, or did you use some type of trailer?
VanDam: I fished the Perfect Skirt with a built-in trailer hook, which had more action than any other skirt. This is one of the reasons I shake the rod tip when I’m retrieving the bait. By shaking the rod tip and twitching it, the skirt will flare from the head to the tail. Even with a straight retrieve, the Perfect Skirt has more action and movement than any other skirt I’ve ever used. Because the skirt moves so much, you get more bites than you will with a standard skirt.

To learn more about Strike King, visit

Tomorrow: A Bigger Finesse

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 4