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Tough conditions? Deal with it

I have to admit I have the jitters as I compile this blog prior to the start of the Bassmaster Elite on Cherokee Lake. Although this is the start of my 27th season, the pre-tournament jitters are always the same. Especially now. We can usually get those jitters out of the way at the Bassmaster Classic, but this year we’re kicking off the season before the Classic. Every man in this field knows the importance of a good start to the season, and the tournament here on Cherokee is really going to make us step it up a notch. That’s because …

Mental toughness separates winners and losers

We have an epic Super Bowl coming this weekend that pits two great teams – the best offense against the best defense in the NFL. I really expect a great game, but as always, one team will persevere, and it will be the one that wins the mental battle. I point this out because the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series kicks off next week on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee pitting dozens of great fishermen against each other. At stake in the season-long battle are the coveted Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year title and a 2018 Bassmaster Classic invitation. And like the Super …
Paper maps and technology give anglers an edge

Paper maps and technology give anglers an edge

There’s no question that today’s electronics and GPS mapping programs are good. I mean, real good. However, there are other tools that belong in anglers’ fish-finding strategies. Like, I still use paper maps and utilize satellite imagery even when I’m on the water. In my mind, it’s important to use every mapping tool available to me. I know some anglers may think paper maps are antiquated and seemingly useless when they have detailed maps on their graph screens. But that’s not the case. They remain critical to my studies because they give me a broader overview of what a system has …

Save time, be prepared

My previous blogs discussed the importance of restocking and organizing tackle during the offseason, but carrying sufficient boat gear can make you more efficient on the water. I’m probably over the top with everything I carry and some of the items have never been used. On the other hand, I want to be prepared to fix any boat or tackle problem that might occur that can save me time. We have excellent service crews at the national tournamentsm, but I never want to take the time to go back to the launch for them to fix a problem if I can …
A great time to learn

A great time to learn

This is the season of learning for all anglers interested in bass fishing. I say that as I kick off my travel schedule to do seminars and sport shows around the country before the Bassmaster Elite season kicks off next month. It began this week when I flew to Bass Pro Shops in Destin, Fla., for a store managers’ workshop program. It’s an annual program that Bass Pro Shops puts together to educate sales people on new products. The workshop lasts a week and is quite comprehensive. Tackle companies visit Destin to spend time with the managers, teaching them the ins …
Are you properly ‘hooked’ up?

Are you properly ‘hooked’ up?

As I explained last week, now is a good time to inventory your terminal tackle needs and get organized. We covered sinkers and what I carry in the previous blog, so today I’ll the most critical terminal gear I carry - hooks. It’s vital that I have precisely the right hook because I make adjustments all the time, especially when conditions change and call for a different presentation. You can use any utility box for hooks, but I’ve found the Plano FTO Elite Terminal Tackle Organizer to be ideal for a number of reasons. First, it has 26 fixed compartments rather …

KVD’s 6-season bass guide

Kevin VanDam needs no introduction. He's done everything there is to be done in the world of professional bass fishing ... multiple times. I've shared a boat with VanDam several times, and I have been amazed at his uncanny ability to find and catch bass on lakes he either hasn't fished for years or has never fished before. When I asked him about his gift, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I just follow my Seasonal Guide. It works on any bass lake, anywhere in the country." Just what is this mysterious "Seasonal Guide" VanDam refers to? How is it different …

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 …