Kevin VanDam | Mossy Oak Fishing Team Leader
I do what is necessary to be the best bass fisherman that I can be. I keep my tackle incredibly organized, so I’m always prepared when I arrive at a tournament site. When you’ve been successful, sometimes keeping an open mind and embracing new technology and new tactics is hard. But I try to keep an open mind to learn new techniques and how to fish new lures.
I think the biggest reason that I've been successful is that I really, really love bass fishing. I think loving the game is what’s required in any sport to be successful. I've seen guys who are successful for a while but then get burned out on the amount of travel required to be a tournament angler. That’s the reason you have to love every part of tournament bass fishing, and you must get yourself geared up to give 120-percent effort every day you compete. Whether the day is for a practice day or competition, you’ve got to give each one of those days the best that’s in you.
When I look back on the number of years (27) that I've been tournament fishing, the time doesn’t seem that long, because I really love what I do, the people I work with, the places I go, and the friends I make. Fishing is not something I have to force myself to get out of bed for every morning. Fishing is an absolute passion for me. If you're not passionate about what you do, I think performing at a high level over a long time is tough.
Avenues are opening up for young anglers to compete on the bass fishing circuit. We’re seeing the Elite Series grow with young people who have competed at the college level, like fellow Mossy Oak Fishing Team member Jordan Lee. Mossy Oak is also the title sponsor of the High School Fishing Series, which is a new, and fast-growing segment of the bass fishing world. It’s exciting to see our sport grow with the involvement of young anglers in competitive tournaments. They’re gaining not just fishing but life experience.
Right now, a college angler can qualify regionally and nationally to win a spot in the Bassmaster Classic, which I think is fantastic. The collegiate bass fishing programs are very similar to the original Bass Federation concept, with the exception that this newer program is strictly for college bass fishing athletes. I think seeing these young college students fishing in the big national tournaments, after having had either four or eight years of highly competitive tournament bass fishing before they fish in the Elite Series is beneficial. I've noticed that these young fishermen are very professional. They’re good representatives for their sponsors and their schools. That’s exciting for me personally, because I have two sons in college right now, and they’ve gotten involved in college bass fishing tournaments. I think that the college bass fishing program is a huge step toward insuring the future of tournament bass fishing.
Mossy Oak launched its first fishing pattern, Elements Agua, at the ICAST show in July 2017. Since then, Mossy Oak Fishing has added six fishing team members to its ProStaff, and Elements Agua has been named the official pattern of B.A.S.S., Major League Fishing and the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series. Mossy Oak Fishing has also stepped up to sponsor bass fishing competitions for anglers from the high school level up.
Elements serves as a reinforcing factor to Mossy Oak’s identity as the preferred outdoors lifestyle brand. The Elements line is designed not just as concealment, but as a form of expression to represent the wearer’s love for the outdoors.