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Add weight to your tackle needs

It’s time to start thinking about restocking tackle boxes in preparation for the upcoming season. It’s never too late to shop the bargains, especially if you’re hitting the sport shows, visiting local tackle shops or reviewing 2017 catalogs. Most anglers only focus on new baits or hot new colors of their favorite lures, but don’t overlook terminal tackle that often gets depleted throughout the year. Perhaps the most overlooked item is your sinkers and weights. If you’re like me, you go through a lot of those during the year and they are easy to overlook. Before I outline the different types …

Remembering Christmas past

Christmas is such a wonderful time around the VanDam house. It brings us together with other family members and friends during a very special holiday. The holiday often brings back childhood memories of my younger days when my siblings and I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning. There is one in particular that I remember most: The morning I unwrapped my first baitcast reel. I believe I was about 8 years old at the time. I had mastered push-button and spinning reels and loved throwing spinnerbaits. However, those reels couldn’t accommodate the heavy line I needed for the bigger baits. It was …

I’m loving winter!

Winter has arrived in Michigan. A blast of cold weather has my pond frozen earlier than it has in several years. While that may send shivers through my southern friends, I have to be honest…I’m excited! This means I will get to do some ice fishing over the holidays and before I get back out on the road. Most people outside the northern tier of the country don’t realize how big ice fishing is up here. I can see those same southern friends rolling their eyes, but I’m telling you, it’s a blast. Especially nowadays with the great equipment we have …

Fishing to win can bite you

There was a time when an Elite angler could consistently do well during a season with an “all-or- nothing,” fish-to-win mentality. That worked pretty well for me in the early years of my career. But the Bassmaster Elite Series field has grown a lot more competitive. Now, if you throw caution to the wind every day of an event, it can cost you a season. That’s because we’ve seen an influx of proven FLW winners joining the Elite Series. These guys aren’t rookies. In addition, Bassmaster Open anglers gaining Elite Series qualification are experienced and talented as well. The margin for …

Downtime with the family

The Thanksgiving Holiday is an important time for the competitive bass fishing world industry to regroup and reset for next year. It’s a meaningful period when we can all relax for a little while before the Christmas break. Obviously, everyone is working on prepping new boats, getting them wrapped, creating our new jersey designs and nailing down sponsorships and commitments for next year. With the 2017 season schedule starting before the Bassmaster Classic next year, everyone is on the fast track to get prepared. But all of that gets put on hold for a while as we rally around our families …

Cubs fan and a bass man

Last week I wrote about the importance of working with local media if you’re an aspiring fishing professional. The photo we used to support that column showed Louie Stout photographing me at the Strike King writers’ conference. My relationship with Louie has been a long and productive one. We started out as bass pro and outdoor writer, but after more than 25 years we’re friends and business partners. It just goes to show you how building those industry relationships can impact your career and even your life. I think Louie and I met at the 1991 Bassmaster Classic. It was my …

Build your name through local media

I spent most of this week at Kentucky Lake for the annual Strike King Media Event which is one of the biggest I attend each year. Approximately 70 or more anglers and media people were there. While the competitive fishing aspect is key to what I do for a living, working with the media and creating opportunities to discuss how-to tactics that relate to my sponsors’ products is every bit as important. It provides me with a chance to work one-on-one with the top media people in the industry and build relationships with those who cover our sport. This topic relates …

The advantages of new electronics

If you’re currently using older electronics you really should consider upgrading to today’s newer technology. It would be difficult for anyone to compete on today’s tournament circuits without the modern day features that electronics now offer. They are an integral part of what I do, but you don’t have to be a pro angler to benefit from them. The features you find on today’s units are far superior to those that we used five years ago. Here’s a look at what you might be missing: Sharp, full color screens: You no longer have to spend a fortune to get a picture …

Add ‘lipless’ to fall arsenal

Once fall fishing moves out of the early funky period, bass anglers can enjoy some of the best action of the year. We’re already experiencing some of that in the north. The water is cooling here and the shallow fishing is heating up with active bass chasing pods of bait. As waters cool the bass move into flat pockets and shallower creeks in reservoirs. On natural lakes, they will move back on the same flats where they spawned in the spring. There are a lot of ways to catch those fall fish, but the challenge an angler faces is trying to …

Tricking fussy fall schoolers

I’ve been doing a lot of fishing throughout the Mid-South and Southeast the past couple of weeks, and I’m amazed at how far the fall pattern is behind this time of year. I anticipated cooler nights would be lowering lake water temperatures, but they remain above normal thanks to unseasonably warm and dry weather. Many of the lakes are low and some states are experiencing drought conditions. It’s made the lakes extremely clear, and that’s created even tougher conditions. Cooler weather accompanied by rain would get the baitfish moving and trigger schooling activity among the bass. When that happens, fishing gets …
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