provided by John Phillips
Mossy Oak Fishing Pro 52-year-old Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of the most successful bass fishermen in the nation (the winner of 5 Bassmaster Classics and the Angler-of- the-Year title 8 times), is a rapid-fire caster, consistent winner, innovative lure designer, family man, friend of the press and master of new technology and electronics. But who is Kevin VanDam really? We wanted to share his backstory with you to help you understand why he was the first professional bass fisherman selected for Mossy Oak’s Fishing Team. To learn more, visit his Facebook Page.
My home state of Michigan has many different types of habitats for bass. We have manmade lakes, free-flowing rivers and backwater areas with shallow bays with grass in them that are similar to Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. Michigan also has clear, deep highland lakes like Smith Lake in Alabama, clear rivers for smallmouths and dirty rivers with largemouths. Michigan has just about any type of waterway where a tournament bass fisherman will fish. So, when I started tournament fishing around the nation, I could reflect on how I caught bass in various lakes when I was at home in Michigan. Bass fishing at home in those different types of water definitely prepared me to be a tournament pro.
I’ve built my reputation as a power fisherman who makes a lot of catches in the day, fishes fast and uses big lures. But today, more and more tournaments are being won by fishing small lures and light line. As the competitors in tournament fishing get better, I have to change and adapt to different techniques and lures to stay competitive. Today, pro bassers have better electronics and more detailed maps of lakes and rivers. Also there’s so much more to be learned about bass fishing.
Everything about bass fishing has changed for the better. We now have better lures to catch not only more fish, but bigger fish as well. One of the things I’ve learned is that when I pinpoint a good school of big bass, I have to maximize the number of bass I catch out of that school. I accomplish that goal by using a search bait to pinpoint the bass and then determine if they’re actively feeding and what lures to fish. Next, I want to slow down my fishing and lure presentation to catch as many bass before they quit biting or move.
Often I’ll fish a flooded river system, chunking and winding a spinner bait. But, there are just as many times in tournaments today when a dropshot, a Ned Rig, or some other type of lure and technique has enabled me to be more successful than if I strictly use old-school fishing techniques. Therefore, I try to learn and use new tactics and lures shortly after they are introduced to the marketplace. My top finesse baits are a tube, a shakey head, a dropshot, a Ned Rig, a wacky-rigged worm and a Neko Rig.