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Chillin’ before the tackle show

The layoff between tournaments has given me a chance to spend time with family and friends.

It’s been a fun two weeks for the VanDam clan, as all of my brothers and sisters have been in the Kalamazoo area for the past couple of weeks to celebrate the Fourth of July. Everyone is off work and we’ve spent a lot of time on the water at my dad’s place on a local lake. We’ve done everything from fishing to swimming and other water sports.

On Monday night, 10 members of the VanDam family participated in a local tournament that is held in this area every Monday night. Younger family members teamed with adults and we all had a blast.

These weeknight tournaments are really popular around Kalamazoo because of all the lakes we have nearby. The weeknight format is great for the working guy because the contests don’t start until 6 p.m. and run until around 9:30 p.m. That’s one thing that’s great about living in the north – it stays daylight a lot later in the evening than it does in southern regions of the country.

Weeknight tournaments are great learning formats for people who want to become a better angler. That’s how I learned in my teenage years and something I enjoy doing with my boys when I’m home and have the time.

What’s cool about these smaller tournaments is you see a lot of husband and wives, fathers and sons and buddies fishing these events.

They can test your skills, too. The 3 1/2-hour format not only requires you to learn how to make quick adjustments, but the events are held on a different lake each week. Since our lakes are natural, each one is different. You may be fishing a deep clear lake one week and a shallow weedy lake the next. Because of the different lakes, these circuits demand you learn a variety of techniques so an angler is constantly learning and becomes extremely versatile.

On Wednesday, Sherry, Jackson and Nicholas drove to Muskegon Lake to spend the next couple of days with friends. We’re towing our pontoon boat up there and will spend a few days playing in the water and watching a big fireworks display.

It’s back to work next week when I head to Las Vegas for the ICAST Show, which is where next year’s tackle will be introduced to buyers and the media.

I’ll be working with my sponsors’ retailers, distributors and wholesalers, discussing the new products and how they work.

It’s a very busy week, as I try to spend quality time with Strike King, Quantum, Humminbird, Plano, MotorGuide and Mustad, all of whom will be unveiling some cool products.

I can’t go into much detail at this point, but I can tell you Strike King has some new baits that anglers are going to love. Quantum also is coming with a new line of KVD Tour rods and reels, Humminbird has some very exciting additions and MotorGuide has an all-new series of trolling motors that I think will be a huge hit.

I’m always like a kid in a candy store at this show. It’s amazing how manufacturers continue to come up with innovative ideas and products that continue to make us better and more efficient anglers.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!