2016 Busch Beer Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake
Kevin VanDam looks to follow up his previous tournament's championship performance with another winner in New York at Cayuga Lake 2016!
Finding a way to win!
It’s no secret that I am not an ultra-finesse fisherman and have struggled throughout my career with slowing down and using those kinds of techniques when conditions warrant it.
But that’s what I had to do to win the Busch Beer Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake.
We were confronted with bright clear skies and slick water on a lake that was super clear. I studied the long-term forecast during practice and determined early on that my power fishing techniques probably weren’t going to work.
I am still a power fisherman; that’s where my heart and confidence lies. But once you find an area that has fish in it, you have to do what it takes to maximize the number of fish you can catch there.
And given the high level of quality anglers in today’s Bassmaster Elite Series, you better learn to adapt.
The same goes for the weekend angler. Today’s fishing technology – excellent mapping with down and side-imaging electronics – has made all anglers more efficient. To be successful in competition at any level, it’s vital to have the confidence to do what it takes to catch more fish.
To adapt, I rigged up a number of finesse rods but relied heavily on wacky-rigged Strike King Ochos (stick worms) and fished them from as shallow as three feet to as deep as 10 feet. It was about the only way I could get those fish to bite.
The positive side of the bright, calm conditions was I could actually see the bass and the grass edges and how the fish were positioned. Although I did catch some fish on beds, I found little wads of fish holding off the grass edges but they were extremely wary.
When I caught one, it would pull the entire school with them, and I couldn’t get more to bite. For that reason, I adjusted by making extremely long casts and waited them out.
I had two wacky rig set-ups; one had a 4-inch Ocho rigged on 6-pound line with a small Mustad No. 2 drop shot light wire hook to get the slowest fall I could. I used that in shallower water if I knew where a bass or a small group of fish was holding. It had a smaller profile, sank slowly and the fish couldn’t pass it up.
My other rig was a 5-inch Ocho with 8-pound line and a 1/0, double-wide drop-shot hook that had a little faster sink rate. I used that in 8 to 10 feet.
I tried fishing an unweighted Ocho rigged Texas style in practice but the wacky rig produced far more bites.
Believe me, fishing this slow drove me crazy. Waiting for that weightless wacky rig to hit bottom was like watching time tick away on the clock. But that’s what it took to catch them.
I also drop-shotted a 4-inch wacky rigged Ocho when I was trying to cover water and I caught a few fish that way. I also caught a few under docks with the wacky rig, but fishing the flats and grass edges were the key to me winning.
I’ve used other finesse techniques to win in previous tournaments, but this tournament required me to really slow down and be more methodical.
I will always rely on power fishing when conditions warrant it. However, this tournament gave me the confidence to slow down with ultra-finesse tactics when conditions demand it.
And like I’ve always said, it’s all about the attitude!
KVD Championship Sunday morning - Cayuga Lake!
Cayuga Lake First Look with KVD and Day Hite - Championship Sunday
KVD enjoys a Busch Beer on stage after winning the Cayuga Lake 2016 championship!
KVD live fishing - Championship Sunday, Cayuga Lake 2016
VanDam with No. 2 on a jerkbait
10:19 AM — Kevin VanDam has caught his second jerkbait fish since he made the move south. He had to put it on a balance beam to cull, but it did help him by maybe a quarter pound. That's the 10th bass he's caught this morning. We think his limit weighs at least 14 pounds.
9:44 AM —
Kevin VanDam has been on a southern trend all morning, but he just stepped it up. VanDam hung a right out of Frontenac Park at takeoff and went about three miles north. He made three short hopscotches south from there.
But at about 9:30 he made an eight- to 10-mile run south to a spot near Aurora College, where we understand he "has some history" from earlier in this tournament.
VanDam's move pays off. Within five minutes of landing at his latest spot, Kevin VanDam put a 3-plus-pounder in the boat. He's throwing a jerkbait.
9:23 AM — KVD's pickerel ratio.
The "pickerel ratio" has been an important element of this tournament at Cayuga Lake. Some guys have been catching more chain pickerel than bass in ratios of 2-to-1 or greater.
Kevin VanDam had that reversed – 8 bass to 4 chain pickerel – until just now when it changed from 8-to-5.
By the way, our Yankee boat driver would like all these Southern rednecks to quit referring to their chain pickerels as pikes. They ain't pikes!
KVD fishing live - Cayuga Lake 2016 pt. 2
KVD championship sunday - fishing live pt. 1
KVD limits out early on Cayuga Lake 2016
KVD starts Championship Sunday the right way
KVD's highlights - day 1 and 2 on Cayuga Lake
KVD - day 3 Cayuga Lake
Kevin VanDam checks in - day 2 morning Cayuga Lake Elite Series 2016
KVD - day 1 Cayuga Lake 2016
Kevin VanDam - 71-13
1. 20-0, 2. 18-15, 3. 17-7
Jordan Lee - 70-12
1. 19-1, 2. 21-7, 3. 17-10
Brett Hite - 69-11
1. 15-10, 2. 21-3, 3. 20-6
Jacob Powroznik - 69-8
1. 21-14, 2. 18-5, 3. 15-15
Koby Kreiger - 69-8
1. 18-14, 2. 16-6, 3. 19-1
Keith Combs - 69-6
1. 16-15, 2. 19-1, 3. 17-10
Dean Rojas - 69-1
1. 20-9, 2. 18-14, 3. 16-7
Drew Benton - 68-15
1. 20-5, 2. 19-3, 3. 15-15
Morino Shimizu - 68-11
1. 23-6, 2. 16-10, 3. 14-7
Gerald Swindle - 67-10
1. 17-0, 2. 19-10, 3. 17-12
Michael Iaconelli - 67-8
1. 21-15, 2. 16-0, 3. 16-7
Matt Herren - 65-8
1. 16-15, 2. 17-13, 3. 18-13
History & Notes;
Day 2: Bernie Shultz - 5-14
Day 3: Brett Hite - 5-4
Day 4: Kevin VanDam -