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KVD Has a Secret

“I changed every single treble hook on every single bait.” Kevin VanDam was focused. I could hear it in his voice.  “I’ve never been more organized. I know everything that’s in my boat.” While he rebounded well last season, hammering out multiple wins in classic KVD fashion and placing high in the 2016 Angler of the Year points race, one could sense a lingering sting in the angler’s voice. Long heralded as the greatest competitive fisherman of all time, VanDam stumbled a bit during the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series season, missing the year-end championship. It seemed clear that was still …
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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …