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2017 Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett

Preview

The Bassmaster Elite Series rolls on towards May, stopping in Mississippi.

Tour Review

VanDam family showdown

RIDGELAND, Miss. – There’s a family feud scheduled for the final day at the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett. In fact, it’s not the first. This is the third time Kevin VanDam and nephew Jonathon VanDam have made Elite Series Top 12 cuts since JVD joined the circuit in 2011.

The previous times came during the 2011 season. On the Harris Chain of Lakes, KVD would finish fifth and JVD would finish fourth. Later that season the younger VanDam would find a leg up, finishing sixth while his uncle finished 10th on the Arkansas River.

“Our whole family is pretty competitive,” Jonathon VanDam said. “We want to beat each other in everything we do.”

The competition on Ross Barnett is tight. They’re separated by­ only 7 ounces. KVD in third with 46-pounds, 6-ounces and JVD with 45-15 in fourth. This margin is smaller than the previous two three-day totals in their Top 12 showings in 2011.

“Neither one of us have made a Top 12 this year,” KVD said. “We’ve just had average finishes, and points-wise you have to have good tournaments.”

KVD is currently in fourth in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the year race, while JVD is in 67th.

The two share information as they often travel on the road together.

"Jonathon came down and pre-fished here,” Kevin said. “I did not come and look or anything, so every day during practice we talked about some general things, about where you can run and we talked about water quality and breaking down the lake real quick, and what each was doing.

“I think it really helped both of us a lot here. We are piecing it together. We are doing similar things. It’s great when it all comes together. It’s not that easy. You can’t guarantee, ‘I'm catching them doing this, and you’re gonna be able to find the same kind water.’ But we just had a couple of those tournaments where we’re close to doing something special.

“The difference between a really good tournament and a bad tournament is such a small margin. So this is awesome. Hopefully, we can finish one and two tomorrow.”

KVD did not mention who he hoped would prevail, if it came down to that.

-- Gettys Brannon

'Pots and pans’ led VanDam to top finish at Ross Barnett 32 years ago

A lot of things change in three decades, so Kevin VanDam is putting in long practice days on Ross Barnett in preparation for this week’s Bassmaster Elite presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, because the only time he fished the shallow reservoir previously was 32 years ago, at the age of 17.

“Back then, I was fishing team tournaments and B.A.S.S. Nation Series tournaments around home in Michigan, and my team partner Don Stevens and I qualified for an end-of-the-year tournament down here at Ross Barnett,” explains VanDam. “To be honest, I don’t even remember what trail it was.”

He may not remember what trail it was, but the southerly winds warming the air at Madison Landing boat ramp following a long day of practice seemed to spin sweet memories of 1985 at a rate equal to the revolutions the giant willow leaf blade was making beneath the swivel of the spinnerbait he was holding. 

“Don and I called this spinnerbait blade combination ‘pots & pans’ because those big blades clank on each other underwater and make a ton of noise like somebody banging pots and pans together,” remembers VanDam with a smile.

And in what would become a very telling tournament 32 years ago – the noisemaker worked.

“I caught a 7-pounder from a beaver hut on a big-bladed spinnerbait just like this in that tournament, and that big fish is the one that landed us a Top 10 finish,” grins VanDam.

“Other than that, I really couldn’t remember much about this place before practice started Monday,” he admits.

“I mean heck, Don and I came down here from Michigan in an 18-foot boat with a 150 horsepower engine, and nobody had GPS mapping back then, so it was pretty intimidating to try and navigate and figure out where to fish among the massive lily pad fields and underwater stumps.”

Don Stevens has since retired, and spends his days shooting trap and skeet. VanDam has figured things out just fine – to the tune of $6 million dollars in prize money, with hopes of adding to the sum this week where good memories chime like the big blades of a spinnerbait configuration that helped launch his amazing career. 

--by Alan McGuckin

'Pots and pans’ led VanDam to top finish at Ross Barnett 32 years ago

A lot of things change in three decades, so Kevin VanDam is putting in long practice days on Ross Barnett in preparation for this week’s Bassmaster Elite presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, because the only time he fished the shallow reservoir previously was 32 years ago, at the age of 17.

“Back then, I was fishing team tournaments and B.A.S.S. Nation Series tournaments around home in Michigan, and my team partner Don Stevens and I qualified for an end-of-the-year tournament down here at Ross Barnett,” explains VanDam. “To be honest, I don’t even remember what trail it was.”

He may not remember what trail it was, but the southerly winds warming the air at Madison Landing boat ramp following a long day of practice seemed to spin sweet memories of 1985 at a rate equal to the revolutions the giant willow leaf blade was making beneath the swivel of the spinnerbait he was holding. 

“Don and I called this spinnerbait blade combination ‘pots & pans’ because those big blades clank on each other underwater and make a ton of noise like somebody banging pots and pans together,” remembers VanDam with a smile.

And in what would become a very telling tournament 32 years ago – the noisemaker worked.

“I caught a 7-pounder from a beaver hut on a big-bladed spinnerbait just like this in that tournament, and that big fish is the one that landed us a Top 10 finish,” grins VanDam.

“Other than that, I really couldn’t remember much about this place before practice started Monday,” he admits.

“I mean heck, Don and I came down here from Michigan in an 18-foot boat with a 150 horsepower engine, and nobody had GPS mapping back then, so it was pretty intimidating to try and navigate and figure out where to fish among the massive lily pad fields and underwater stumps.”

Don Stevens has since retired, and spends his days shooting trap and skeet. VanDam has figured things out just fine – to the tune of $6 million dollars in prize money, with hopes of adding to the sum this week where good memories chime like the big blades of a spinnerbait configuration that helped launch his amazing career. 

-- Alan McGuckin

2017 Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett
Ross Barnett Reservoir, Ridgeland, Mississippi
Apr 27 - Apr 30, 2017

Leaderboard

1
Dustin Connell - 64-13
1. 19-12, 2. 16-11, 3. 15-7, 4. 12-15
2
Kevin VanDam - 62-10
1. 10-15, 2. 17-0, 3. 18-7, 4. 16-4
3
Jonathon VanDam - 59-4
1. 15-13, 2. 15-1, 3. 15-1, 4. 13-5
4
Bobby Lane Jr. - 57-9
1. 20-14, 2. 11-10, 3. 11-2, 4. 13-15
5
Mark Menendez - 57-7
1. 17-0, 2. 17-11, 3. 10-2, 4. 12-10
6
Dave Lefebre - 56-14
1. 18-4, 2. 15-10, 3. 10-3
7
Ish Monroe - 56-1
1. 14-7, 2. 16-2, 3. 13-9
8
Matt Herren - 55-9
1. 14-6, 2. 15-3, 3. 14-11
9
Skeet Reese - 52-2
1. 14-8, 2. 12-1, 3. 16-2
10
Fred Roumbanis - 51-12
1. 15-14, 2. 13-14, 3. 15-0
11
Keith Poche - 51-4
1. 20-2, 2. 11-0, 3. 15-6
12
Brent Chapman - 48-9
1. 18-1, 2. 10-14, 3. 15-14
60
Chad Morgenthaler - 41-8
1. 13-13, 2. 15-11, 3. 12-0

History & Notes;

Big Bass

Day 1: Brandon Lester - 7-2

Day 3: Randall Tharp - 5-2