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2008 Elite Series - Citrus Slam


The second event of the Bassmaster Elite Series season sends the Elite pros and their co-anglers south to the March 13-16 Citrus Slam. Competitors likely will explore large portions of the chain, including lakes Tohopekaliga, Cypress, Hatchineha and Kissimmee, although local pros tend to find a few sweet spots and don’t venture far from them.

Tour Review

How the Slam was won

KVD found a good, big bass bite tossing a Strike King Red Eye Shad. He fished scattered hydrilla clumps located in 7 to 10 feet of water on Lake Toho. Allowing the bait to drop all the way to the bottom, pulled it rapidly up, and then let it fall back to the bottom again. He credits his winning bag to the unique action of the Red Eye Shad and his returning time and again to the same spot.

KVD interview

Kevin responds to questions after winning the Citrus Slam:


Kevin breaks his ongoing streak of struggling in Florida waters, winning the Citrus Slam on day 4 with a bag of 10-6 good enough for a 2 pound victory over Ray Sedgwick.

“It never gets old.” — KVD on winning his 13th B.A.S.S. event

“Florida has always been sort of bittersweet for me over the years,” VanDam explained. “The one thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I have to be fishing my strengths in order to be comfortable. I’ve learned that I can fish that way down here, but finding the right water is key.”

KVD relied on a Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait for the majority of his fish. He was ripping it through isolated clumps of hydrilla in Lake Toho and letting it fall after it came through holes in the grass.

“All my bites came on the fall or the pause, after I ripped it out of the grass,” VanDam said. “That Red Eye Shad has a wiggle, a shimmy to it, that no other bait has.

“I love to throw lipless crankbaits, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in my set up. They are notorious for losing fish, but I think I lost only one quality fish all week.”

VanDam used a Quantum PT cranking rod that has a fast, but fairly soft tip. He cast the lure on 17-pound Bass Pro XPS fluorocarbon line.

“There’s no stretch in that line, so it’s easy to feel the bites, and fluorocarbon sinks, so it helps keep the lure down,” said VanDam, who also noted that he needed 17-pound test to successfully rip the lure through the grass.

He also added two extra-short No. 2 Mustad treble hooks to the lure, for their fish-holding ability.

Details to come…

Day 3 report - KVD vaults into 1st

VanDam’s one good fish today (6-10) accounted for more than half his weight – similar to his sack makeup yesterday. About whether he thinks he can rope another tomorrow pig morning, he said: “I hope I get four or five. Honestly, though, it was really hard today. I only got to fish my best spot for an hour and a half before it just got ridiculous.

“I couldn’t keep the boat positioned right,” he added. “For the short time I was there, it was difficult enough just to try to work your bait. Hopefully it’ll lay down just a little bit and allow me to fish. I did catch one big fish this morning, but it was a challenge.”

“If they move 20 or 30 yards, you can miss them by a mile. What you’ve got to do is fish until you find them, then be able to work that area real thoroughly. It’s just one of those deals. A 10 mph wind would be perfect, but unfortunately, the forecast is for some bigger winds tomorrow.”

“The older you get though, the smarter you’re supposed to be. I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past. But again, I’m just happy to be where I am right now. It’s been a long time since I’ve led a tournament where I’ve had to work as hard as I have here.”

Citrus day 2 report - KVD moves to 3rd

“The fish should bite a lot better (tomorrow),” said Kevin VanDam, who moved from eighth to third Friday with a 17-11 limit (which included an 8-10 lunker) and gave him 35-11.

VanDam and Mark Davis, who moved from 42nd to ninth with a 30-5 total, are fishing in the same area. They aren’t sight-fishing, and neither thinks the tournament will be won that way.

“I don’t think so, either,” said VanDam when informed of Davis’ opinion. “Not if that wind blows tomorrow. One of us is going to catch them out there. (Todd) Faircloth (19th, 28-3) is out there, too.”

“These fish are keying on small spots within the grass, and the wind and current keeps repositioning them,” said KVD. “Yesterday I made the right moves [18 pounds] and today Mark (Davis) did [20 pounds, 3 ounces]. I can see them because the water is so clear, and I know that the calm conditions have made it more difficult,” he said. “I was real lucky to catch the big one I caught today. I think it is going to get tougher on the sightfishing and I know what I will be doing tomorrow.”

Day 1 report

The No. 1 ranked angler in the world, isn’t at the bank. As noted, he’s fishing outside hydrilla. He caught 18-00 today and trails Velvick by 7 pounds.

“I’m pretty happy, because Florida is not always (easy) for me,” he said. “But I’ve had some decent finishes down here at Toho, and I like the lake.”

About the sight-fishing, and how his bite might match up against it the next several days, he said: “The wind’s supposed to blow, and I think for a lot of the guys, that will really hurt their sight-fish. They’re going to have to figure out a way to catch them. But it’s not going to be easy for me either.

“It was nice and calm today, which made it real easy for me to point the boat.”

He added that to catch his fish, “it’s definitely a boat-position deal.” And if the wind does blow, he hopes to be able to adapt and still catch those same fish.

Also notable is he’s fishing “like (he) has in past years, but the grass changes every year here, so you have to fish different areas.”

2008 Elite Series - Citrus Slam
Kissimmee Chain, Lake Wales, Florida
Mar 13 - Mar 16, 2008


Kevin VanDam - 59-07
1. 18-0, 2. 17-11, 3. 13-06, 4. 10-06
Ray Sedgwick - 57-12
1. 17-02, 2. 10-14, 3. 18-04, 4. 11-08
Scott Rook - 56-07
1. 19-14, 2. 13-12, 3. 13-06, 4. 9-07
Kenyon Hill - 54-02
1. 15-10, 2. 17-13, 3. 9-09, 4. 11-02
Bill Lowen - 52-09
1. 16-15, 2. 13-6, 3. 14-07, 4. 8-07
Alton Jones - 52-10
1. 15-13, 2. 13-0, 3. 12-12, 4. 11-01
Bobby Lane - 52-09
1. 18-10, 2. 14-13, 3. 8-0, 4. 11-02
Bryan Hudgins - 52-07
1. 17-09, 2. 5-04, 3. 20-10, 4. 9-0
Kelly Jordan - 51-07
1. 22-14, 2. 21-5, 3. 0-0, 4. 7-04
Terry Scroggins - 49-02
1. 23-02, 2. 11-11, 3. 6-08, 4. 7-13
Jeffy Reynolds - 46-08
1. 20-12, 2. 8-05, 3. 11-12, 4. 5-11
Rick Morris - 44-12
1. 13-9, 2. 19-4, 3. 10-2, 4. 1-13

History & Notes;

Big Bass
Day 1: Jared Lintner — 8-13
Day 2: Kenyon Hill — 10-03
Day 3: Ray Sedgwick — 07-07
Day 4: Bobby Lane — 04-12

• VanDam noted that he has two nephews bent on becoming pro anglers. One, Jonathan VanDam (JVD) is already competing as a pro in the Bassmaster Opens. But his other nephew Steve (SVD?) played for the Michigan state high-school basketball championship today. “He wants to be a pro angler,” VanDam said. “He’ll probably get a basketball scholarship and go fishing. We want him to do both. I have a couple of nephews coming up and wanting to follow in my footsteps. I can’t wait for them to get out here.”

• Luke Clausen won that Classic with a record weight of 56-2 over three days.

• That Classic’s weights would have been much higher with better weather. Mid-March in Central Florida is usually beautiful, and the Kissimmee Chain — in particular Lake Tohopekaliga — has produced some of the best catches in BASS history, including Dean Rojas’ record five bass catch in 2001 weighing 45-2 (he won the four-day event with 108-12).