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A funky time of year

We finished up the Bassmaster Elite Series season last week with the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship at Mille Lacs Lake. My hat’s off to Brandon Palaniuk for having an a amazing season. Brandon showed his maturity the way he kept his cool despite the tight race and formidable opponents breathing down his neck. The fish at Mille Lacs were beginning to show signs of the transition to fall patterns. Some were caught deep and others were caught fairly shallow. That’s what happens when we start having cooler nights. But this appears to be shaping into a funky start to …

Don’t overlook spinnerbaits this fall

Spinnerbaits. Remember them? They still catch big fish and can really catch ‘em in the coming months of fall. Admittedly, they have kinda been pushed aside. Years ago, no one fished without having at least one tied one on. But over time, our lure arsenal has grown to include baits that perform similarly but with different actions. We’ve got swimbaits with more eye appeal and some vibration; square bill crankbaits that emit action, vibration and erratic movements; bladed jigs with some vibration and less flash than a spinnerbait; and swim jigs that move horizontally through the water column but more subtly. …

Give me fluorocarbon for drop shotting

Drop shotting has become a staple on the Elite circuit, especially during the second half of the season when we fish a lot of smallmouth waters. A huge drop shotting trend among Bassmasters is to spool their spinning reels with a small diameter superline (braid) and add a long fluorocarbon leader. Even so, it’s interesting to see that an equal number of touring pros still prefer straight fluorocarbon over the braid/fluorocarbon combination. And while I will use the braid combo on occasion, I am among those who prefer to fish with straight fluorocarbon when drop shotting. There really isn’t a right …

Lake St. Clair’s all-time classic lure

There are two things you can count on at Lake St. Clair – the wind will eventually blow hard enough to stir its 430 square miles of water into ocean like proportions – and the smallmouth will usually bite a 4.5-inch tube jig. The second day of practice for the 2017 Advanced Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite Series on St. Clair was no exception. “A man could use a Motrin after a day like this,” said Kevin VanDam upon finally reaching calm waters near the protected harbor of a Harrison Township boat ramp. VanDam had been riding the spine-jarring waves for more than …

The versatile swimming worm

When fishing shallow cover, most anglers think of swim jigs, swim baits, frogs or topwaters. But what about swimming worms? Now, there’s a tactic that has been used since the day plastic worms were created but in this era of trendy baits and techniques, it’s been forgotten. Not for me. I love swimming a worm over shallow grass, especially in places where you can’t fish a buzzbait, spinnerbait or other types of lures that might hang up. You can use a standard plastic worm, but some manufacturers offer a more specialized swimming worm that works more efficiently. Years ago, I used …

Daily Limit: Lion of St. Lawrence

Back where it all started, Kevin VanDam found a lot of special Sunday on the St. Lawrence. In 1987, he fished his first B.A.S.S. tournament there. Thirty years later, in his ninth event on the New York fishery, KVD won there for the third time to increase his all-time record to 24. But that history on the river would have been hard to imagine after his inaugural tournament 30 years ago. “That first event, I got my butt handed to me. I finished down there,” he said Sunday. “I draw a big-name pro and let him talk me out of what …

How trout fishing helped me win

Most bass pros credit their success to their early days of chasing bass. While this may come as a surprise to most of you, many of my river skills were honed from fishing for trout and salmon. The knowledge I gained as a kid while fishing the streams and rivers of Michigan for several species of trout and migrating salmon came into play last week when I won at the St. Lawrence River. The time I spent learning how trout and salmon use current, position themselves in it and react to lures presented to them has been helpful throughout my career. …

KVD Whoops Em’ in Waddington

KVD Whoops Em’ in Waddington The fact that KVD would eventually hoist the champion’s trophy at yesterday’s conclusion of the HUK Bassmaster Elite event at the St. Lawrence River should have surprised no one. His historic 24th BASS win came on a smallmouth fishery that was the first lake that he ever fished a BASS tournament on. What was perhaps a little surprising was the fashion in which he won it. Kevin’s wire-to-wire domination of the event was due to an enormous cumulative total of 20 smallmouth bass weighing a staggering 90 lbs. 3 oz. That is an average of 4.5 …

KVD slams door on 24

WADDINGTON, N.Y. — By noon Sunday, Kevin VanDam was already working his way back toward Whittaker Park, where the weigh-in would be held about three hours later.   He knew it was over — and so did most everyone else.   After leading the first three days, VanDam caught five bass weighing 23 pounds, 12 ounces to punctuate a dominant victory in the Huk Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Go RVing. His four-day total of 90-3 is one of the highest ever recorded by an Elite Series angler weighing in only smallmouth bass.   The closest angler to KVD was Mississippi …

VanDams dominate leaderboard

WADDINGTON, N.Y. — It's been every pro fisherman's nightmare for more than 25 years. Superstar Kevin VanDam — a Michigan native and arguably the best smallmouth angler in the history of the sport — is hammering the smallies with no sign of slowing down. And now, the remaining anglers in the field have just one more day to overtake him and keep him from recording his 24th career B.A.S.S. victory wire-to-wire style at the Huk Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Go RVing. VanDam added five bass that weighed 22 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday and maintained the lead he's …