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2010 Bassmaster Classic

Preview

Fifty-one Classic qualifiers will hit the Coosa River impoundment Feb. 19-21 for the 2010 Classic title. As previously announced, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham, Ala., will be the site of the daily weigh-ins and accompanying 2010 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo.

Tour Review

KVD on ESPN's First Take

KVD post Classic thoughts

In his post-Classic remarks, VanDam didn’t single out the trophy itself as much as the competitors, fans and everyone else involved in the sport.

Things could have easily gotten ugly in Beeswax, but they didn’t. And that had as much to do with his win as anything, he said.

He was first boat out by virtue of his 2009 AOY title.

“Anytime you go out as the first boat, you’re going to get your choice of where you want to go,” he said. “But the area I went to – I didn’t have any other competitors around me. The only person who came to the area I fished on the first day was Tak (Omori). He came back there and started fishing. I’d already been in there all day and I pretty much caught 99% of what I weighed. I think he fished around a little bit and I left at 2:30. Brent (Chapman) was fishing in the same area. He kind of came back to the bridge, (but) turned around.

“Tak came up to me the second day of the tournament and said he had no idea how many fish were there. He had every right to get on it the second day, but he told me, ‘You won’t see me in there again.’ That’s the class of anglers we have on the Elite Series. It’s one of the things that makes it special out here – to compete with these guys. I can tell you it’s an honor to fish with them throughout the year.”

About the hordes of fans that followed and watched him all 3 days, he thanked the fans while onstage and remarked that they were the best he’d ever seen. They didn’t affect his fishing at all – and might have even helped, because other competitors maybe saw all those boats and turned around.

He also commented that, although he didn’t make the same Classic-style leap like he did at Pittsburgh, this title – this Classic win – means as much to him as anything he’s accomplished in his long career.

“I can tell you that I’m worn out,” he said. “Classic week is a busy week. And the way I was fishing is pretty physically demanding – making a lot of casts. There are a lot of other demands on your time – a lot of my family’s here, and you have a lot of sponsor commitments. So I apologize for being maybe not as excited as I could have been on the stage.

“But believe me, this means everything to win the Bassmaster Classic. It’s what I dreamed about as a kid. It’s very special and I’m going to enjoy it. It’s one of those things – everybody that’s ever fished a bass tournament dreams about being on that stage. I’m as motivated as ever. I’m not going to retire. I’m 43. I don’t know what I’d do. I love to compete and I love the people you get to be around in this sport.”

VanDam threw a Strike King RedEye Shad rattlebait in gold and gold sexy shad all 3 days of competition. As he previously described when he won the Toho Elite Series, the RedEye Shad shimmies when it falls – something he feels no other rattlebait does. He got most of his strikes by bumping or ticking cover, jerking the bait away from it, then letting it flutter to bottom.

Just as critical as the bait, he said, was he used the new Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip trebles on the RedEye.

“Treble-hook lures are known for losing bass,” he noted. “I’d been working for years to try to figure out ways to increase the number of bass I land with crankbaits of all sizes. I finally got Mustad to build the hook I wanted. It’s extra short, so you can fit large hooks on a smaller bait without tangling. I used two No. 2s on the RedEye and two 4-pounders that I caught in the back – I landed them.”

KVD takes his 3rd Classic championship

KVD mined a large spawning flat in the back of Beeswax Creek for three days and delivered three limits that cumulatively weighed 51 pounds, 6 ounces to outlast Jeff Kriet, Todd Faircloth, Russ Lane and 47 others to take home the trophy to an increasingly crowded mantle.

“Well, this was a challenging week weatherwise. I’ve had a lot of success in Alabama over the years,” VanDam said of his seventh Classic in the state. “It’s always alluded me. I love fishing these lakes.” VanDam was also appreciative of the fishing-savvy fans in the state, saying the throngs of spectators gave him room to win. “In 1992, when I won my first AOY, what I remember about Alabama is the fans,” he said. “One of the main reasons I was able to catch what I did was the fans. I was fishing in the back in Beeswax Creek and the fans were very courteous.”

The victory wasn’t wire to wire: VanDam led after Day 1 but trailed Kriet by 2 ounces after the second day of competition. When they launched Sunday morning, he was only a single ounce ahead of Faircloth. All three fished almost exclusively in Beeswax, but VanDam’s fish proved to be the most reliable, plentiful and sizable over the course of three days.

With this victory, Kevin trails only Rick Clunn (four) on the all-time Classic victory list. Only three other anglers, Bobby Murray, Hank Parker and George Cochran, have won more than once.

VanDam also has five Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year awards, including the past two.

KVD in winning position?

The dragon may have just spewed the biggest ball of fire. We noticed that someone mentioned KVD sealing the deal earlier.

They were right on. He’s boated a 4 1/2-pounder and kicked out a 1-8. That puts him around 49 pounds.

We will have to wait for weigh in now

2:30pm updates, Sunday

This has basically boiled down to five anglers. Really just four, but I don’t trust Iaconelli. That dude can get freaky at times and really change things up.
According to our numbers VanDam has the lead by a pound over Lane, 5 pounds over Kriet, 7 pounds over Faircloth and 11 pounds over Ike.

KVD’s limit is three 4-pound class fish and two dinks. He catches a 2-pounder and you add a pound to their needs. Make more than one 2, or a single 3 and he starts edging out in front. With 1 hour and 30 minutes remaining, any and all of that could take place.

KVD battling it out

11:50AM: VanDam finally has a limit of about 11-12, giving him 43-11 but still behind Russ Lane by almost a pound.
Russ Lane, Bobby Lane, VanDam, Martin-Wells and Crochet are the only anglers with limits at the moment.

11:30AM: Russ Lane may have made that adjustment we were talking about earlier.
BASSTrakk just reported a 6-pounder, which brings his total up from 15 pounds to 18-12. That gives him 44-7 overall and the unofficial lead at the moment.
Lane keeps that up and we’re not sure Beeswax Creek can hold up for the others.

9:30am update, Sunday

KVD just finished his limit, catching two pretty quick. His fourth fish registered as a 4-pounder. His fifth fish was reported by Robbins. He should have about 12 pounds, once that fifth fish registers. Maybe more, maybe less.

Either way, it’s obvious KVD came to play this morning and isn’t letting the spectators and those who may be fishing around him bother him.

His limit gives him an almost 10-pound margin on Faircloth.

KVD's thoughts heading into day 2: Bassmaster Classic

Day 2 notes and quotes

“In practice in 2007 I had a limit that probably would’ve weighed almost 30 pounds.”
—Kevin VanDam, arguing that it’s possible for an angler back in the pack to make a comeback tomorrow.

In second place, VanDam trails Kriet by 2 ounces with 31-15. VanDam began his day power fishing the sunny cove off Beeswax Creek where he did his Day One damage. He tried other spots, but finished his day back in Beeswax. VanDam’s limit weighed 12-7.
“The lake changed a lot,” VanDam said, noting a depth drop of about a foot. “It got tougher today with those high, bright skies.
“I’m not going to die in one place tomorrow. I have other places to look at.”

VanDam’s starting spot the first two days is largely protected from boat traffic and he has done a good job of controlling his spectators. On the other hand, any fish heading into the creek to replenish the diminished population have to pass through Kriet’s area to get to VanDam. The Oklahoman will therefore have first shot at them.

1PM Saturday Update

KVD moved from his Beeswax Creek location of day 1 around noon. Well, that move lasted all of a few minutes before he ran back to Beeswax Creek, joining Todd Faircloth, Jeff Kriet, Shaw Grigsby, Brent Chapman, Kevin Wirth and Gerald Swindle.

When VanDam first came back, he was fishing the main part of the river near Kriet and Faircloth, but he’s since gone back under the bridge and is sitting on old faithful.

He didn’t catch any fish when he was out and hasn’t caught anything since he’s been back. His last bass was at 10:45 a.m., and his biggest is still his first, which was a 2-pounder.

The water temperature in Beeswax right now is 49 degrees and warming.

KVD leads day 1 -- notes and quotes

“We’re probably a week or two away from this lake showing how good it really is.”
—Kevin VanDam, who leads the tournament with 19-08

“I have a lot of confidence in fishing this time of year,” said VanDam, who weighed four largemouth and one spotted bass. “It’s the way that I like to fish and I was fortunate to have a good day. It was kind of a grind. Mentally it’s tough — always in the Classic. When the water’s real cold like that and you have to work real hard for them, you better be confident in what you’re doing.”

VanDam is fishing a few similar patterns, and said he is trying to fish methodically in more obscure areas.

“Sometimes that pays off, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “These guys are the best guys in the world and they don’t miss much, so I’m hoping I’ve got something for three days.”

3PM Friday update

Kevin VanDam just added a 3-pounder to his bag, bringing him up to 15 pounds even.

That puts him in second overall, right behind Faircloth, which looks oddly familiar to the Toyota Tundra AOY race of 2008 — Faircloth in the lead with VanDam looking over his shoulder going into the final event.

We all know how that one turned out.

Todd Faircloth 15 lbs 12 oz
Kevin VanDam 15 lbs 0oz
Billy McCaghren 14 lbs 13 oz
Takahiro Omori 14 lbs 12 oz
Mike Iaconelli 14 lbs 10 oz
Jeff Kriet 14 lbs 6 oz
Tommy Biffle 11 lbs 13 oz
Brent Chapman 11 lbs 4 oz
James Niggemeyer 10 lbs 15 oz
Stephen Browning 10 lbs 9 oz
Cliff Pace 10 lbs 8 oz
Russ Lane 10 lbs 5 oz

Unofficial standings: 12:45pm Friday, 19th

The standings at the moment look like this: 1. Billy McCraghren 14-13 2. Takahiro Omori 14-12 3. Kevin VanDam 14-8 4. Jeff Kriet 12-14 5. Todd Faircloth 12-8 6. Cliff Pace 10-8 7. Brent Chapman 10-8 8. Gerald Swindle 10-1 9. Cliff Crochet 9-12 10. Kotaro Kiriyama 8-10

Kevin's key's to the Classic

“You cannot have a bad first day at the Classic,” VanDam said. “I did last year. I had a terrible first day. I bounced back and caught a big stringer, but it was too little too late. “

VanDam said experience at this level cannot be overrated.

“This is my 20th Classic. I’ve been there, I’ve won it and I know that’s what I want to do — win. So, I’m going to try to put myself in position to win. I know in my mind what I need to do in these conditions to have a chance to win.”

For VanDam, that comes down to three key points:

Maintain balance: “You don’t want to take yourself out of it by saying ‘I’m going to swing for the fence and only catch big ones, but a limit of 12-inchers isn’t going to help you either.”

Stick to the game plan: “Confidence-wise, I know that at noon (on Day 1), if I don’t have a limit in the boat, I know that it can happen quickly. That’s not going to change my focus; I’m not going to start scrambling around; I’m not going to start finesse fishing just to catch a keeper. I’m not afraid to take a chance and come across that stage without any fish at all.

Time management: “The water is so cold, you can’t fish fast. You can’t just burn the water up. You have to slow down for these conditions so that makes time really critical.”

Kevin's take on a final day of practice

“There’s no point in kidding anyone. This is one of the toughest – if not the toughest – Classics I’ve ever had to prepare for in my career. The conditions are brutal. A lot of guys are comparing it to Pittsburgh but I don’t buy that. Pittsburgh in 2005 and Birmingham in 2010 are two very different fishing experiences.

In Pittsburgh the fish were small, but the fishing wasn’t really that tough. They weren’t all that hard to catch. I knew after practice what I needed to do to get them in the boat. That was a tournament where they were biting but they just weren’t very big.

Here, this year, it’s a different story. The fish are plenty big in Lay Lake they just won’t bite. They’re in shock from all this rain and cold weather. It’s the opposite situation from Pittsburgh. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any comparison between the two.”

“In the end it all boils down to confidence. You have to believe in yourself and in your abilities as an angler. Qualifying for a Bassmaster Classic is proof positive that you can fish. You just have to go forward and trust yourself, no matter how tough the conditions.”

KVD after Wednesday's practice

“I did actually did learn something today. For me, that was just a function of more time on the water. As cold as it is, you can’t fish super-fast. I didn’t have a good practice before, and it’s not that today was great by any means. But I just used today like another practice day.”

“I wouldn’t say I have a new pattern, but I just saw some different things and learned a few more things.”

“This is the toughest I’ve ever seen this lake. The fishing’s so tough that I think this is one Classic that anybody can win. You can probably have an off-day and still have a chance to win. It just can’t be on the second day.”

VanDam declined to guess at a winning weight and also declined to hint at which portion of the lake he’d fish.

KVD pre Classic thoughts

On the snow flying on Lay Lake:
“This is going to be new ground for all of us,” VanDam said from his truck en route to Alabama. “When we fished at Hartwell, even though the temperature was cold, it didn’t change the water clarity and it didn’t change the actual temperature of the water at all.”

“It just doesn’t freeze down there much and it’s done that,” he said. “That being said, I just left Michigan where last night we got a foot of snow, the kid’s school was closed and I had to get my boat out.

“I spent two hours [Wednesday] morning snow blowing and plowing my driveway just so I could get out and on the road, so I’m pretty excited to be heading this way.”

KVD Lay Lake thoughts:
“I’ve been there multiple times at different times of the year. I know how it lays out and what different areas have to offer,” he said. “For somebody who has never seen the lake before, it would have been real important to come down in the fall, but I doubt any places they found where fish were holding is going to really help them out much this week.”

The last time KVD was on Lay, he was as close as he’s been to the Classic title since he won it in 2005. He had a 9-ounce lead going into the final day, but they dropped the lake overnight and when he showed up to his spot Sunday morning, the fish he’d been managing all week were gone.

“The difference in winning and losing for me was one good bite,” he said. “Boyd got it, and Skeet and I didn’t. Was it disappointing? Absolutely. Does it haunt me? No, not at all. Anytime that you put yourself in contention going into the final day, that’s about all you can ask for. When you don’t come through, it’s not any fun. I’m not out there to lose. I want to win every time I go.”

There will be a lot of talk this week about Duckett’s two big bites, and all 51 anglers will be looking for the next one. And it may be more difficult than usual.

“This is going to be a really exciting Classic for the fans because we have no idea what it’s going to be like,” he said. “I don’t think any of us have experienced conditions like this before. It’s going to be whoever makes the best decision and adaptations out there on the water. The fans are going to get a great show because the winner is really going to have to earn it.”

Stop by the Team KVD booth at the Classic this year!

If you’re at the 2010 Classic please stop by and visit Team KVD. There will be KVD merchandise, giveaways and more. The KVD booth will be in the lower level next to the Quantum booth. Stop by and say hello, be sure to let the team know you’re a member of the KVD forums!

KVD on 20 years in the Classic

2010 Bassmaster Classic
Lay Lake, Birmingham, Alabama
Feb 19 - Feb 21, 2010

Leaderboard

1
Kevin VanDam - 51-6
1. 19-8, 2. 12-7, 3. 19-7
2
Jeff Kriet - 46-6
1. 16-7, 2. 15-10, 3. 14-5
3
Todd Faircloth - 44-3
1. 18-2, 2. 13-12, 3. 12-5
4
Russ Lane - 43-12
1. 14-1, 2. 11-10, 3. 18-1
5
Brent Chapman - 37-14
1. 13-0, 2. 8-2, 3. 16-12
6
Mike Iaconelli - 37-5
1. 14-9, 2. 12-3, 3. 10-9
7
Matt Herren - 35-13
1. 9-7, 2. 13-15, 3. 12-7
8
Kevin Wirth - 34-12
1. 8-9, 2. 10-11, 3. 15-8
9
Jeff Freeman - 32-11
1. 9-8, 2. 8-13, 3. 14-6
10
Takahiro Omori - 32-10
1. 15-7, 2. 8-14, 3. 8-5
11
Aaron Martens - 30-3
1. 8-11, 2. 7-9, 3. 13-15
12
Mark Tucker - 29-3
1. 9-15, 2. 7-4, 3. 12-0

History & Notes;

Day 1:
30 Limits – 189 Fish – 410-3 Total weight

Day 2:
Big Bass: Alton Jones – 5-1
Day 3:
Big Bass: Russ Lane – 6-2

2007 Classic champ Boyd Duckett caught 1 fish in 2 days
2009 Classic champ Skeet Reese was blanked on day 2 of fishing