Kevin keeps it going in Tennessee 6-12-10
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:38 AM (1:52)
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In 2009 Bobby Lane brought home 20 bass that weighed 97 pounds, 9 ounces. Second place finisher Kevin VanDam caught another 20 for 92 pounds, 1 ounce. In 2008 the weights were down, but not by much. VanDam — the winner — weighed four sacks that tipped the scales at 84 pounds, 13 ounces. Tim Horton was nipping at his heels with 83 pounds, 12 ounces. That’s a 4-pound average in 2008 and darn near 5 pounds in 2009.
The only wild card that Evers sees is a lack of grass this year, which he attributes to the high water caused by the heavy rains earlier this spring.
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:17 PM
“After the first day I knew I had a chance to earn a few bonus points. That really pushed me on, made me fish even harder. Twenty points is huge, especially when you’re down a ways from where you want to be when the season ends. (Twenty extra points is what you get if you lead a tournament all four days.)
I’m in eighth place with 1,549 points. That puts me 272 points away from Skeet (Reese) but only 38 points into the Top 12. That means I have to turn my attention to the Arkansas River and really do well this week. This is no time to slip or have a bad performance.
But, like I said in one of the post-tournament interviews sometimes you’re on a roll and sometimes you’re not. Just one or two things can make all the difference in the world in your results. I never predict anything before it happens. I can tell you, however, that I’ll be giving it everything I have all week long. I intend to fish in July if at all possible.
I don’t mind telling you I was getting a little concerned about things going into Kentucky Lake. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I wasn’t fishing the way I wanted to fish. That’s a fact. There’s no denying it. I can do basic math.
At the same time some of what was being said just wasn’t true. All the questions about what was wrong with me were silly. I laughed when I heard them. There was nothing wrong with me. I was doing just fine. I had a few things that didn’t go my way. That’s all there was to it.
Here’s the blunt truth about life at the Bassmaster Elite Series level: Make the slightest mistake, or have the slightest thing go wrong, and the other guys will jump up and bite you. Everybody out here can catch fish. This is a sport of ounces, not pounds. I had some things go wrong and I was paying the price for it.
I know you’re thinking that a lot of the tournaments are won by pounds but that’s the final result. Those pounds are made up of fish that are separated by very little weight. Miss a good bite, have one shake off at the boat or screw up in some other way and you’ll get beat — every single time. There are no exceptions.
It all comes down to my performance this week. If I catch fish I’m in, otherwise I’m out. That’s the way I like it.”
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:07 AM
It was never a question of if VanDam would make a run but rather when he would do it. A 9th place finish at Lake Guntersville looked to be a warning to those who might have written off the five time Angler Of the Year. However, a disappointing 38th at Clarks Hill left a little room for doubt as to whether or not VanDam would be a factor in this year’s points race.
Like a hanging curve to a struggling batter, Kentucky Lake was just the medicine needed to put the KVD back in the running. With his three previous finishes on the TVA waterway being a second in ’09, a win in ’08 and a third in ’06, is it any wonder the reigning Classic champ was excited about this week’s event?
“The conditions were tougher today, but not as bad as it could have been,” VanDam said. “I really didn’t see as many local boats as I have in the past.” Even with less boat traffic on the water, the fish didn’t seem to cooperate like they did earlier in the week.
“The bite was real finicky today,” he said. “I had to keep changing it up. I was throwing the Strike King Series 6XD first and when they quit biting I would use the same bait in the Silent Stalker version. Most of my big fish came on the silent bait.”
With the reputation and the resulting followers VanDam encounters on the water, he is often forced to find new water when returning to a lake he has had success on. This week was no different. “I probably caught 90% of my fish in areas I found this week,” he said. The Humminbird Side Imaging played a huge role. I had it set to scan 70 feet on either side so the detail was a little sharper. I was not just looking at the ledges; I was mainly looking at where the fish were holding.”
VanDam admitted that most of his fish came off smaller structure and that the better fish were a little deeper than most. “I fished mainly from 18 feet down to 25 feet,” he said. “I could get the bait down to 21 feet pretty quickly and really work the bottom.”
As all great competitors are, VanDam was not satisfied with his performance. “I would really have liked to catch 100 pounds here,” he admitted. “I lost a few fish each day that I would like to have back, but I also caught a few that maybe I shouldn’t have. I was a good week and I’m happy with it.”
“Every one is sweeter than the last,” he said. “It’s hard with the kind of scrutiny I get to get a chance to win and I was concerned about that going into the day. There was a lot of people fishing and I had to just grind it out, and it worked out for me.
“I had a couple of places that I’d saved and one paid off big-time – nobody was fishing it. The first three or four places I went had local guys on them, but it’s a big lake and it’s public and that’s the way it goes.”
He now has two victories, a 2nd and a 3rd in his four visits since the inception of the Elite Series in 2006.
“It’s just one of those lakes that fits my style. I love the Tennessee River and I’ve had a lot of success up and down the chain. I knew I had to have a good week and it all came together, and the feeling’s pretty awesome.”
He cranked river ledges with a Strike King Series 6 XD – the same bait that brought him his runner-up finish a year ago. Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be posted soon.
Jun 12, 2010 - 7:59 AM
Currently, we see Reese and Evers locked into the postseason. Derek Remitz is third and more than likely on his way to Alabama. You can say the same for Brian Snowden, who is in fourth. In good shape but not totally secure are John Crews, Cliff Pace and Terry Butcher in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
KVD sits in eighth and you would be hard-pressed to think he won’t get the job done.
That leaves the remaining four in this order: Aaron Martens, Greg Hackney, Bill Lowen and Gary Klein.
With exception of Martens (who is amazing in so many ways) those guys are some of the best river anglers in the world. You have to believe they will bring it on the Arkansas River.
Normally, you would think that someone in that top 12 would choke big time, but who? They are all so strong.
Trailing them and equally impressive is the bubble guys Dave Wolak (13th and just 3 points out), Jeff Kriet (14th and fishing at home), Russ Lane (15th and really tough when it comes to current-related, shallow fish).
The list goes on, which means every fish caught, every decision made next week will be huge for who gets in and who doesn’t. That will go for the whole field considering that every point is important. So the guy who doesn’t even figure in this race could have a big impact by taking away or giving points according to how he finishes.
Jun 12, 2010 - 7:44 AM
Regardless of the result Saturday, VanDam will have picked up valuable points in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. By leading three days, he accumulates 15 points and if he is able to maintain the pace, VanDam will move into the top 8 in the Angler of the Standings, which will put him in qualifying position for the Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason.
Jun 12, 2010 - 7:43 AM
Kentucky Lake guru VanDam — he has posted a second-, third- and first-place finishes in the past three BASS events here — amassed a three-day total of 70-13 (Jordon has 67-2) but has seen his weight decline each of three competition days. Much of that can be attributed to the tremendous boat pressure VanDam is coping with and the bad news for KVD is that the impending weekend should only bring increased traffic.
It’s nothing new for VanDam, a prohibitive favorite for fans to follow on the water, but Kentucky Lake always poses a unique scenario due to the local anglers and the abundance of tournaments that occur on the weekends.
“I tried to do anything I could do to get away from the pressure,” said VanDam, a 16-time Bassmaster winner. “But I knew it was going to be a frustrating day and affect the way I was fishing, so you just have to deal with it and try to piece together the best day you can.”
As the conditions change, VanDam said the fish are moving but he has a number of spots that hold quality fish. It is a matter of timing and changing up the presentations in order to entice the right bites. He is primarily working a crankbait over shell beds but is mixing in a number of other different lures. “I’m throwing everything at them that I can,” said VanDam, a three-time Bassmaster Classic winner. “Today, I threw more variety than I have in the past two days. It’s definitely not easy out there.”
VanDam predicted that on Saturday he would need to grind out at least 8-10 good-sized bites to secure a win. The unpredictability of boating a bass — with the boat pressure and changing conditions — is increasing, VanDam said.
Jun 10, 2010 - 8:12 AM
Kevin VanDam’s Kentucky Lake domination is beginning to get a bit ridiculous. Despite a rough start — VanDam failed to connect on consecutive 5-pounders on his first two bites — the five-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year opened up a 6-pound lead at the Tennessee Triumph Thursday.
After scoring a first-, second- and third-place finish in the previous three Elite events here, VanDam is closing in on adding another victory to his Kentucky Lake ledger. He ended up toting 24 pounds, 2 ounces, to the scales Thursday, which upgraded his two-day total to 49 pounds, 2 ounces. His consistency was rare as he was only angler to remain in the top five from Wednesday.
VanDam capitalized on a fast-and-furious early-morning bite, which allowed him to vacate his primary areas by 9:30 a.m. and hunt for new water. The search wasn’t fruitless, and VanDam said he feels that he has a number of areas at his disposal that could produce.
Still, VanDam was worried about boat pressure — from locals and competitors — with the impending weekend. Last year, perhaps the most lasting image from Bobby Lane’s victory here was the armada of 100-plus spectator boats that crowded his area.
Still, if anyone is used to boat pressure, it’s VanDam. And he’s certainly in a comfort zone on Kentucky, so all things considered, he likes where he is at.
“You have to catch them all four days here to have a chance,” said VanDam, who is looking for his 18th BASS win. “Each day, guys are figuring out how to catch them and I just have to keep at it. With the boat traffic, I have had to be very selective about what areas I can fish. And that is hurting me a little bit. But it is what it is.”
VanDam played it close to the vest on details of his pattern but given his responses (“I like the way I’m fishing”) and his past choices here, it’s probable VanDam is working a crankbait around the numerous ledges that are so vital to Kentucky Lake tournament fishing.
VanDam said the evolution of side-imaging equipment — VanDam uses a Humminbird — has been key to his success. It has allowed VanDam to explore expanded areas and though it has evened the playing field in terms of finding the subtle areas on ledges where the bass are schooling, VanDam said anglers still have to find a way to put the fish in the boat.
With the lead, and perhaps of most importance to VanDam, he collects another five-point bonus in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. VanDam has moved into Bassmaster Elite Series Postseason position — only the top 12 in the AOY standings qualify — and is closing the tremendous gap that Skeet Reese had opened up heading into this week.