With more than $6 million in tournament winnings and as the four-time winner of Bassmaster Classics, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, knows how to win bass tournaments.
Kevin VanDam | Mossy Oak Fishing Team Leader
There are several steps you must take before you go to a bass fishing tournament to give yourself the best chance to win:
Know generally what the weather conditions will be when you arrive at the tournament. Like a weatherman, I track the weather the week before and the week of the tournament. Then I’ll know how to practice.
If the forecast for a tournament is stormy and windy, I know I’ll need to practice in protected water. Spring temperatures can fluctuate a lot. If a warm front is coming in after it’s been really cold, I need to practice knowing that the bass will move toward the shallow water, which will warm-up first, in preparation to spawn.
Although the weather may change, having a thorough knowledge of the seasonal weather patterns for the time of year when the tournament will be held and understanding the weather forecast days before the tournament can increase your odds for success.
Being organized gives you more time to fish and dramatically increases your odds to catch bass. I have to be organized, starting with my tackle, my clothing, my rods and my boat. At any time during a tournament, you should be able to ask me where any item is located, and I should be able to tell you exactly where it is in my boat without ever having to look for it.
Practice, but don’t over-practice. Always have an open mind when fishing. To win a tournament, I must fish efficiently to find bass and prepare to catch them.
Capitalize on bass-fishing opportunities. For instance, if you’re fishing ledges, wood or any other type of cover where your hook will come in contact with anything besides the water and the fish’s mouth, check your hook every time you take a crankbait out of that water.
Make a mental decision to go for the win. You have to know deep within your heart and soul that you can win a tournament. If I realize a five-bass limit may not win a tournament, I’ll understand that I must find quality bass to have a chance to win. So, I won’t fish a drop-shot worm or a shaky-head worm but instead will be fishing baits that catch big bass.
The more you get out there bass fishing, the more you’ll learn how the little things can help. Watching the weather, staying organized, being attentive and having the right attitude, are just a few things you can do to become a better competitive bass angler.