Bluegrass Brawl ‘08 Finals pt. 2 — 6/15/08
Jun 15, 2008 - 12:02 PM (2:59)
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This week the sprawling Kentucky Lake, along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, is the site of the eighth stop of the 2008 Elite Series. It plays host to the Bluegrass Brawl, where 107 of the nation’s best bass fishermen will test the waters of one of the nation’s greatest fisheries.
Covering over 160,000 surface acres, plus another 58,000 acres at Barkley, there’s plenty of water to fish, which is a good thing, considering that on a week like this, making it to Saturday is half the battle.
Jun 15, 2008 - 8:39 PM
Despite his smallest bag of the tournament, some 5 pounds under his average from the first 3 days, Kevin VanDam held off a late surge by Tim Horton to win his second Elite event of the 2008 season so far.
“Man, what a relief,” VanDam said after coming backstage with the championship trophy in hand. “It probably means more to me than any event in awhile because two years ago here, I gave up that event. I ended up finishing third, and I should have won that one. I learned from it though. I learned from the pressure we were going to have out there. I planned for it, and I didn’t slow down even on day one (this week).“
“It was tough to stay in the game,” Kevin commented on the final day’s fishing. “I had a lot of spots that I had been saving, but every spot that I went to, the fish just weren’t there. I had one spot that I had been saving all week. I found it during practice and didn’t touch it this week at all. I went in there this afternoon and they were just there.”
“A crankbait sure is a great tool,” he said. “Not only does it cover a lot of water, but it tells you what’s on the bottom too. Mussel beds and gravel — those little rough spots — were the key”
With the win secured, VanDam revealed that up until the moment that his final weight was tallied, he was still second-guessing his decisions over the final day. “*Looking back on the day, I should have probably changed my rotation up quite a bit,*” he explained. “*That’s easy to say after the fact, you know? Fortunately it was enough.*”
With the victory Kevin moves into the lead for the Angler of the Year race. “When you get on a roll like that, the momentum just keeps going, I had a couple of bad tournaments early in the season, but I’m really looking forward to the end of the year.“
Jun 15, 2008 - 12:00 AM
“I’ve got a good many places I haven’t even fished yet, so I feel pretty good about tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a great lake and the bite is really on. The thing about this lake is, it’s not easy to do, but you could have a 27-28 pound day here.“
Kevin takes a nice lead into the final day of the Bluegrass Brawl, leading from wire to wire thus far.
Thinking of his 3rd place performance 2 years ago when large crowds slowed him down: “It was the exact same scenario back then, so I was prepared for it this time,” he said. “I went and hit a couple of spots and caught a good early limit off those, and then I just milked some other stuff for everything I could get.“
He again relied on a variety of baits, but didn’t go through as many fish as he had on the first 2 days. His biggest fish was a 5-02 and his smallest was a 3-pounder that died on him early in the day.
“The rest were all good ones. I threw quite a few back that were bigger than that one.”
He’s never won here and badly wants to change that tomorrow.
“I love fishing in the summer and this is the best offshore structure lake I’ve ever fished. It’s got more ledges and drops than anyplace. It’s a great lake and I feel good. I’m going out and doing what I love to do.“
Jun 13, 2008 - 11:02 AM
VanDam, who was edged out for the win at Wheeler last week by Jeremy Starks, caught his day-best bag under the gaze of numerous BFL hopefuls.
“I really didn’t know what kind of quality I was on because I hadn’t caught any of those fish in practice (opting instead to shake off his bites),” he said. “I caught quite a few fish today and got a couple of good bites.”
He admitted that he once again did most of his damage with a Strike King crankbait in his custom sexy shad color. “They were biting all day, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens from here. I didn’t run around much ? I’m trying to manage my stuff.
“I know I need to catch them real good again tomorrow before the weekend comes. Those BFL guys were relentless out there even today.”
Jun 13, 2008 - 10:54 AM
Kevin is working a balancing act trying to not hit too many spots and give away his strategy through the weekend in the Bluegrass Brawl. Even coming in to the scales a little early on Thursday as to not give any more tips away to the field.
“The water is real hot this time of the year, and I didn’t want to risk the penalty,” he explained about coming in early. “Plus, there are so many guys out there watching, that I didn’t want to beat on any more spots.
VanDam said that the key is in being ultra-secretive in everything you do – and even then, you can’t control everything. “The key is finding spots that no one would think to fish,” he explained. “I have a lot of subtle spots that aren’t really what you might consider as ‘prime’ right now.”
“The guys that watched me today were watching to learn for Saturday. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
While he came in early and didn’t get to truly experience it, VanDam’s practice indicated that it’s better to be on the water after lunch than in the early morning. “*It’s a better bite in the afternoon, I’m sure,*” he said, commenting on his early arrival at the ramp. “*Knowing that I had a good sack, and that I can do it again tomorrow, coming in early wasn’t that much of a concern.*”