provided by John E. Phillips
Mossy Oak Fishing Pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is one of only two professional fishermen to win four Bassmaster Classics. He’s also won three Major League Fishing Cups and is one of the fastest anglers finding and catching bass in every tournament he attends. He’s a very detailed angler and a keen observer of everything around him when he’s on the water. Sights and signals that most bass fishermen completely overlook are some of the keys to VanDam’s success. To learn more about VanDam, visit his web page at http://kevinvandam.com/ and his Facebook page.
Mossy Oak: As we learned in Part I of, “Inside the Fishing Mind of Kevin VanDam,” you next moved to Grand Lake when fishing for the Summit Cups on three lakes in Alpena, Michigan. What did you notice about Grand Lake that enabled you to win the tournament on this lake?
Kevin VanDam: The color of the water on Grand Lake was different from the color of the water in the other two lakes – Lake Hubbard and Long Lake – that were part of the Summit Cups that I’d fished the previous two days. Grand Lake, with its grass and underwater rocks, wasn’t crystal clear, but it wasn’t dirty either. I decided to start with a jerkbait to locate bass. When that failed, I went with a crankbait and caught a few bass. About a third of the way into the first round of the 3-round competition, I switched to the spinner bait, and it produced more bass faster than the crankbait. I not only found the bass and learned they were biting with the spinner bait, I’d also changed to this lure that they would bite more aggressively. I not only won the round and the tournament, but I also set a record for the most pounds of bass caught in a day of fishing - 87 pounds. The angler who came in second only had half as many pounds of bass that I had that day.
Mossy Oak: How and why did you choose the spinner bait that you finally used and give up the crankbait that you’d won with the day before?
VanDam: I was using a Strike King KVD 2-Blade Scorcher spinner bait, and I started burning that spinner bait, reeling it as fast as I could over weed lines, underwater high spots, shoals and reed clumps. I was fishing vast, expansive flats as fast as possible. That lure enabled me to very quickly fish a tremendous amount of water and pinpoint the areas where the bass were holding. The day was sunny with some wind on the water. The bass started feeding very aggressively. I had learned that on those kinds of days, with that color of water, that I could fish power-bait tactics and lures to locate more bass quicker than I could with a jerkbait or a small squarebill jerkbait. My spinner bait was a 1/2-ounce with double-willow-leaf blades, and I fished two different spinner baits - chartreuse with a white skirt and a green glimmer shad skirt. I’d spotted some emerald-green shiners in the water, so I tried to imitate those baitfish with my spinner bait. That spinner bait was the one I caught the most bass with, on that day.
Mossy Oak: Why did you choose willow-leaf blades on your spinner bait instead of using Colorado blades?
VanDam: I can crank willow-leaf blades faster than I can crank Colorado blades. Too, the silver willow-leaf blades give off more flash than Colorado blades do.