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2008 Bassmaster Classic

Preview

After finishing #2 in the Angler of the Year race for the 2nd year in a row, KVD looks to start off 2008 with a bang. A perennial top 5 finisher in the Classic, Kevin is sure to be in contention all weekend.

Tour Review

08 Classic Wrapup
“It was really hard this week to be consistent. It was probably the best practice I’ve ever had in a Classic. With the spectator boat traffic being light, and the pattern that I was on, I pretty much thought that I was bullet proof as a result.

“I’ve fished 18 Classics now, and if I’ve ever thought that I had a shot at winning it was this one.”

Being in the hunt out of the gate gave VanDam all the confidence that his practice had put him on the winning pattern. With the weather change, however, he had to find some stained water. “It was easy the first day,” he said. “I spent the day out on the main lake fishing little clay points. The second day, the sun popped out and it got a little tougher for me, but it was for everyone else too.”

“You have to trust your instincts, and I knew that my main lake fish wouldn’t bite in the sun, so I went up the river and caught a limit. The wind picked up and it started to rain a little bit, so I decided that my best chance was back where I was on the first day. By the time I got down lake, it had slicked off and the sun was out.

“That was a bad decision because by the time I got down there, I didn’t have enough time to go back.”

Kevin caught all of his fish on one of two baits – either a StrikeKing Series Five in Blue Gizzard Shad or a Flat Shad in Sexy Shad. “When I was down lake fishing the herring, they were just bombing the Series Five,” he said. “I had to leave that deal today and go up river and pick up the Flat Shad.”

Ultimately, KVD the competitor emerges again and through the process of summarizing his tournament, it’s clear that third place doesn’t sit well. “I’m not real happy with my decision making this week,” he explained. “Hartwell is a tricky lake because of the blue back herring. They move around a lot and the fish follow them.

“I can go back now and pick out places that I made mental mistakes, but I really thought that I had them wired here this week.”

Day 3 Report

6:17 PM EST
The Classic is over and KVD finishes in the #3 spot for the second year in a row! He ended up just behind Cliff Pace for 2nd place, and 6 pounds behind the winner, Alton Jones. Always at the top of his game, KVD was pushing for the championship until the end.

5:30 PM EST – The anglers are arriving on stage and at this point there’s only speculation on how much people may have, or have not actually pulled in. Within the hour we’ll know the champ.

KVD is making a big move at the moment. He’s spent a good portion of the day way up the Seneca River, but he is moving down the lake. Odds are that he is motoring to the Lightwood/Gumlog areas where the lion’s share of his and Alton’s three-day weight have come from.

12:30 PM EST
Unofficial Top 10
1. Alton Jones (4 fish, 8-0) 47-01
2. Bobby Lane (5 fish, 13-0) 43-5
3. Greg Hackney (5 fish, 10-1) 41-9
4. Cliff Pace (5 fish, 7-1) 40-15
5. Kevin VanDam (5 fish, 8-0) 40-1
6. Scott Rook (5 fish, 10-0) 39-2
7. Aaron Martens (5 fish, 10-0) 38-13
7. Jeff Kriet (3 fish, 7-0) 38-13
9. Kotaro Kiriyama (5 fish, 9-0) 38-3
10. Michael Iaconelli (3 fish, 6-0) 37-5

11:00 AM ESTKVD has three fish and sits in sixth with 37-12. One 4-pounder and he’s in second. Kriet is in seventh place with two fish and a 37-11 weight. One more 4-pounder and he’s in second, two more and he’s in the lead with a fish to go.

10:00AM ESTKVD is finally catching them. He has two weighing in at 4 pounds, 5 ounces. That gives him 36-6 and an eighth-place standing, and he has four guys in front of him with limits: Kiriyama (seventh place) Martens (fifth place) Rook (fourth place) and Pace. KVD is way up the Seneca, near where Rook spent the first two days. VanDam made that same move yesterday late in the day. He’s doing it early this morning.

———

“(To this point) I’ve tried to come up with patterns that were spectator-proof.”
— Kevin VanDam, 4th place, 11-14

KVD had a few things working against him on day 2. First off, he didn’t get a single bite where he caught them yesterday. After blanking at stop one, he went to his backup pattern only to realize the bottom had fallen out on that, too. On top of his fish not wanting to cooperate, he also had what he described as “a large armada” trailing him around the waters of Hartwell today.

“I didn’t catch a fish before 10 o’clock,” he said. “I was just blown away by the number of local boats out there. And it wasn’t just spectators, a ton of guys were out there just fishing.

“But I’m not blaming the crowds for how I performed today,” he added. “The weather killed my bite more than anything. A lot of it has to do with the extra wave action from the wind today. That killed one of my patterns because it muddied up the banks.”

He said he’s been relying on three separate patterns the last 2 days, and he’s got a few other areas that combine for a so-so third plan if he has to bail on everything else.

“I don’t think anybody covered as much water as I did today. I didn’t save any spots or do anything conservative. It was a tough bite and I was struggling for a while.”

“I’m going to be 4 or 5 pounds back. That’s within striking distance, but it’s definitely not where I wanted to be.

“Hopefully tomorrow everybody goes to church and the fish bite a little better.”

Day 2 Classic reports

6:15 PM EST
Kevin went back to the same area of the lake Saturday that he fished most of Friday with great success, and he never got a bite. After changing gears half way through the day KVD rebounded with a bag of 11-14. Sitting in 4th place KVD is ready to roll into the final day of competition with the top 25. His total sits at 32-1 after 2 days.

2:15 PM ESTKVD found his rhythm and he’s put together a limit totalling 10 pounds, 4 ounces to move him out of the doldrums and into third place, right where he started the day. The biggest change in all of that is VanDam has spent most of the event on the lower end of Lake Hartwell. He’s now up the Seneca River, not too far from his buddy and traveling partner Scott Rook.
The Unofficial top 10 shapes up like this:
1. Alton Jones 35-5
2. Charlie Hartley 31-10
3. Kevin VanDam 30-7
4. Michael Iaconelli 30-5
5. Cliff Pace 30-2
6. Bobby Lane 30-1
7. Jeff Kriet 29-7
8. Scott Rook 28-4
9. Aaron Martens 26-7
10. Edwin Evers 26-6

12:50 PM EST – Not a lot to report from the water. A sunny day has been a slow day thus far. Fog dropped in this morning, and reports from the lake have been slow to come in thus far. KVD sruggled in the morning but is sure to find something by weight in time.

9:15 AM EST
KVD has yet to catch a keeper under heavy fog cover on Lake Hartwell. Not much action on the lake to this point at all. Changes could start taking place after the mid-day point. Right now it’s still slightly foggy. But in the next little while, that final bit of fog will burn off and take away that overcast feel. When that happens, a lot of the largemouth these guys are catching will start to position themselves around the available cover, mostly a few docks still in the water.

Classic Day 1 reports

6:00 PM EST
Kevin’s 1st day pull of 20-3 left him thinking he could do even better: “believe it or not I’m a little disappointed in my bag. I had a great practice, but things didn’t go as well as planned.” On the lake: “It’s big, the water’s low, so they don’t have nearly the place to hide.”

“You can find whatever you want out there and catch quality fish on this lake. The key will be how to stay consistent (from day to day) with the variant weather.”

3:45 PM EST
Unofficial standings:
• Michael Iaconelli 22-00
• Scott Rook 21-10
• Charlie Hartley 20-03
• Terry Scroggins 18-00
• Kevin VanDam 17-08
• Cliff Pace 17-00
• Alton Jones 15-06
• Aaron Martens 15-02
• Kotaro Kiriyama 14-08
• Kelly Jordon 14-08
• Dave Wolak 14-08

10:50 AM ESTKVD just boated another keeper. He now sits at the top of the leaderboard with 17 pounds, 8 ounces.

Kevin was up at 3:30 scouting the weather and conditions forecast. With over 30 friends and family in town KVD will be motivated to fish hard and strong.

“Today is going to be game day,” said the two-time Classic champion. “We should smash them today.”

“Fish bite on days like today,” Kevin said. “In low-light conditions bass have an advantage over their prey species. They’re going to feed today. Low pressure triggers bass activity.”

“This will undoubtedly be the coldest (Classic),” said VanDam. “But our clothing is so good these days. I’ve got my 100-mile-an-hour suit on right now, and I’ve got all the Under Armour and everything under it.

“The biggest thing out here today is going to be keeping your hands warm. You’ve got to keep your head in the game, and if you’re thinking about your hands, you’re not concentrating on fishing. I’ve got a lot of different glove options to keep my hands warm and keep focused out there today.”

Some new audio updates in from KVD, listen here

The night before the Classic

Mark Zona reporting says that Lake Hartwell is so large, many anglers may head out for the day on Friday and never see another angler until they head back for the dock. He also notes that KVD has kept pretty quiet, but rumor is that KVD is “locked in” to the lake, and could come out the gates strong. Cold weather or not…

KVD's take on the competitve level of this Classic

“The lake’s too good – there are too many fish not to (have a tight field of anglers),” KVD said. “I’ll have my chances. Every place you go that’s 40 feet or deeper, there are tons of fish suspended in the trees. It’s going to be a great Classic.”

Weather Report

Cold, miserable conditions last week gave way to a warming trend with partly cloudy skies. Today’s final practice day was quite windy, but there was intermittent sun and balmy temperatures.

However, a blast of nasty weather, with precipitation and possible thunderstorms, is due by Friday. Nighttime lows are expected to stay cold, which should hold the water temperature where it is right now – in the mid-40s on average.

Kevin arrives in South Carolina

The Classic preparations are under way! Kevin has been calling in on his snow filled journey to South Carolina, and from his practice runs on Lake Hartwell. Get all the updates straight from the man in our audio section.

2008 Bassmaster Classic
Lake Hartwell, Greensville , South Carolina
Feb 22 - Feb 24, 2008

Leaderboard

1
Alton Jones - 49-9
1. 17-5, 2. 18-11, 3. 13-7
2
Cliff Pace - 44-5
1. 18-10, 2. 14-11, 3. 11-0
3
Kevin VanDam - 43-8
1. 20-3, 2. 11-14, 3. 11-7
4
Bobby Lane - 42-7
1. 15-0, 2. 14-13, 3. 12-10
5
Greg Hackney - 41-7
1. 16-2, 2. 14-9, 3. 10-12
6
Jeff Kriet - 40-15
1. 12-15, 2. 18-12, 3. 9-4
7
Kotaro Kiriyama - 40-9
1. 16-11, 2. 12-0, 3. 11-14
8
Clark Reehm - 40-8
1. 13-0, 2. 12-8, 3. 15-0
9
Aaron Martens - 40-7
1. 12-15, 2. 15-14, 3. 11-10
10
Mike Iaconelli - 39-10
1. 18-5, 2. 12-14, 3. 8-7
11
Edwin Evers - 39-9
1. 18-7, 2. 11-2, 3. 10-0
12
Skeet Reese - 39-0
1. 11-5, 2. 17-2, 3. 10-9

History & Notes;

Big Bass Leader
Day 1 – Todd Faircloth, 6-2
Day 2 – Fred Roumbanis, 6-7
Day 2 – Clark Reehm, 5-6

Lake Hartwell Trivia

1
Number of Bassmaster Classics held in South Carolina
(1973 Classic, Clarks Hill Lake, won by Rayo Breckenridge)

2
Number of Bassmaster Tournament Trail events held on Lake Hartwell
(1996 and 1998 Georgia Invitationals)

180
The depth of the lake behind the dam

880,000
cubic yards of concrete used to build the dam, enough to build a sidewalk to San Francisco

55,900
Surface acres of Lake Hartwell

1962
Year Lake Hartwell reached full pool

59-8
Weight in pounds and ounces of the South Carolina state record striped bass caught from Lake Hartwell in 2002

500
Number of boat slips in Portman Marina, official Classic launch site and the largest inland marina in the state of South Carolina