If Kevin VanDam was coaching his hometown Ostego High School Bulldogs basketball team, he’d have ‘em believing they could beat the Kentucky Wildcats.
A lot of rare qualities comprise the greatest angler to pick up a graphite rod the past 25 years – perhaps none greater than self-confidence.
Not cocky. VanDam is the consummate class act. He simply believes in his abilities at a higher level than most believe in theirs. Way higher in fact – even when sitting in 41st place entering Day 3 today of the Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River Presented by STARK Cultural Venues.
“I’m coming for ‘em today,” said KVD with a wink and a giant smile as he steered his Tundra to the top of the launch ramp.
“I’m fishing in the same area today that I fished the past two days, and two years ago when we were here. I know the potential it has for big fish, and with the field cut in half today, there won’t be near as many boats in there, and I’ll be free to move around and cover a lot more water,” he explained.
If you know VanDam, you realize that freeing him up to cover more water, combined with confidence gained from past experience, could make for a miraculous comeback indeed.
As he pulled a Quantum 7’ 2” medium heavy TourKVD rod topped with a 6.6:1 Tour KVD reel and a Strike King swim jig from the rod box, he warned it wouldn’t be his only weapon of choice. “There are fish in all phases of the spawn here, so I’m mixing it up with a spinnerbait, two different creature baits and a swim jig, trying to find the big females that haven’t yet locked-on to a bed,” he explained.
“The bigger females I’m trying to catch are just cruising and looking for a male, it’s like a singles bar in that area,” laughed VanDam.
Then the mood turned intensely serious again when asked if he could make today’s cut into tomorrow’s Top 12 from his current spot way back in 41st place.
Without hesitation, VanDam responded, “Absolutely!”
“I feel like if I can catch 12 pounds today I’ll make the Top 12. That’s my goal. And I’m telling you, that kinda weight lives where I’m fishing,” warned VanDam in Orange’s damp dark morning air.
“We’re gonna go Hawg snatchin’ today,” concluded the 47-year-old in kid-like fashion with genuine excitement for the day ahead.
“Hawg Snatchin” – sorta sounds comical coming from the typically serious and most dominant bass angler of the past two decades. And you can also be certain if he were coaching the Ostego Bulldogs today, he’d have ‘em fully believing a Wildcat whoopin’ was about to take place.