Fishing & Boating News
After the win, an exuberant VanDam, who fished his very first B.A.S.S. tournament on the St Lawrence River thirty years ago in 1987, told the gathered crowd, “It’s my 300th tournament. It’s my 24th win. What an incredible week. It’s unbelievable. I had a great day… this place is so incredible.”
KVD’s Sunday smackdown smallmouth bag of 23 -12 was punctuated by a homerun of a 6-pound 5-ounce toad landed at 7:30 am. The “gigantor,” as KVD referred to the fish on stage, earned him an extra $1,500 for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week. His winning four-day tally of 90-3 was also record setting; it was the highest ever recorded by an Elite Series angler weighing-in smallmouth bass only. The remarkable win pushed VanDam’s B.A.S.S. career earnings total to more than $6.2 million.
Connecting with fish was difficult on Sunday, and the 20-pound bags that were coming in with regularity the previous three days became harder to come by. Windy conditions shut the door on finesse tactics, but KVD’s strength is his versatility. The pro applied his deep understanding of fickle smallies gleaned from decades of chasing moody fish around the Great Lakes region for the decisive victory.
“They’re very aggressive by nature. You’ve just got to give them what they want for what mood they’re in. Sometimes, they’ll chase something twenty-yards and eat it. At other times, they’re just real timid and you’ll have to finesse them in.” He continued, “One minute they can be just lights out aggressive, and then the next day you can see them all over the place and can’t get one to bite.”
Of course, making key adjustments at the right time is standard operating procedure for KVD, who relies on meticulous tackle preparation and organization to shift gears as quickly as his mind dictates. “I had to mix it up every day. Ya know, I caught them jerkin’, I caught them on swimbaits, I caught ‘em on a wacky-rigged Ocho, a drop-shot shallow, and deep.” Of course, all those specialized plastics were stored, labeled and filed in Plano KVD Series Wormfile Speedbags with more care and attention to detail than a librarian. “Fast access was key,” he continued. “I just would show them a bunch of different colors. On those fish… I knew where they were at… you just had to, you know, try something crazy from chartreuse to smoke to purple to natural… just whatever you could do. And you know, every now and then, one would bite it. Sunday was a prime example of why I’m so meticulous about my tackle storage and organization.”
VanDam’s win on the St. Lawrence River bumps the seven-time and four-time Classic Champion to third place in the Toyota AOY standings – something that is bound to strike terror in the hearts of Toyota AOY leaders Brandon Palaniuk and Casey Ashley, as smallmouth will be key factors in the next two Bassmaster Elite events coming up July 27-30 at Lake Champlain and August 24-27 on Lake St. Clair. If that’s not scary enough, the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster AOY Championship will return to the best smallmouth lake in America – Minnesota’s Mille Lacs – in September.
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