Diamond Drive 2009
In 2007, Lake Dardanelle hosted one of the last Majors — the Bassmaster Legends tournament won by 2007 Classic champ Boyd Duckett. In 2009, it’s back in the mix as an Elite Series stop. The 2007 event was much different than what the pros will see in 2009. First of all, that tournament was held in August while this one will be in the early spring. Weather permitting, weights will be way up from already impressive totals.
In the summer of 2007, top anglers had four-day catches of 60 pounds. But in the spring, you should be able to tack another 20 pounds to that number as the best in the business take on this 34,300-acre reservoir. A variety of prespawn patterns should be effective, from flipping and pitching or slow rolling a spinnerbait in the shallows to crawling a jig and pig or working a deep-diving crankbait in the depths.
Final day notes and quotes from KVD
KVD spent the first 2 days working around a big spawning flat along with Cliff Pace (who was in 2nd place after day 2 and eventually ended up 7th) and several others.
His main baits were a Strike King Caffeine Shad soft jerkbait and a Strike King KVD swim jig. He was throwing them around dead lily-pad stems and other vegetation.
He devoted a couple of hours to that locale on the final day, but pulled off at mid-morning and ran a series of spawning pockets that had deep-water access nearby. He caught his day-best bag that day by flipping a Strike King Rodent creature bait.
> Soft jerkbait gear: 7’4” heavy-action Quantum PT Tour Edition rod, Quantum PT “Burner” casting reel (7:1 gear ratio), 20-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line, 4/0 BPS XPS hook, Strike King Caffeine Shad (watermelon).
> He said of the Caffeine Shad: “It’s part of the Perfect Plastics line and it’s real salty. It sinks slow and horizontal and has a good action to it.”
> Swim jig gear: 6’10” medium-heavy Quantum PT Tour Edition KVD signature series spinnerbait rod, same reel, 50-pound Bass Pro Shops Magibraid braided line, 1/4-ounce Strike King KVD swim jig (bluegill), Strike King Rage Craw trailer (green-pumpkin).
> Flipping gear: Same rod, line and hook as Caffeine Shad, Quantum PT Tour Edition casting reel (6.3:1 ratio), 1/8-ounce Bass Pro Shops XPS tungsten bullet weight, Strike King Rodent (green-pumpkin).
Main factor in his success – “Fishing everything with a real slow fall. Like with the Caffeine Shad, it was unweighted and I’d always get the bites right when I’d kill it.”
Performance edge – “The first couple of days the Biosonix unit made a big difference. I had them schooling with it.”
KVD just short of an Elite Championship
Kevin VanDam made a decision on the first day of the Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive on Lake Dardanelle that might have cost him the victory.
The day had already been shortened by a three-hour fog delay, and he was catching multiple limits of the same size fish. With what he thought would be three more days of fishing left, VanDam made the decision to leave and conserve, finishing with 15 pounds, 6 ounces.
When Saturday was canceled due to weather — or maybe even if it wasn’t — VanDam figured he should have stuck around and looked for a kicker fish.
“I didn’t want to waste them and catch a bunch of them trying to catch one big one, and I probably should have,” VanDam said after the weigh-in on Sunday. “I don’t know that I would have ever caught a big one, but in hindsight, you’ve always got to catch what you can catch on a given day.”
In the two full days he had left, he caught 18-6 and 19-8. By the time all the fish hit the scales Sunday, it was 2-4 short of champion Mark Menendez’s 55-7.
Looking at the forecast, he had planned on a cold weather bite in practice, and it paid off, giving him a bag 2 pounds heavier than the next largest. But he figured it wouldn’t be enough.
“I knew being 5 pounds back, it was going to be tough to make it up in one day,” VanDam said. “He was in a hole and had a spot to himself, and I was fighting with a lot of other guys in one area. It was just a lot to overcome.”
Day 3 cancelled -- the top 12 move on
The third day of The Diamond Drive is anything but a jewel as BASS has decided to cancel Saturday on Lake Dardanelle due to unsafe weather conditions.
With frigid temperatures and sustained winds exceeding 20 miles per hour, it was decided around 7:20am that there would be no third day. On Sunday, the Top 12 will hit the water for a final day of competition. For anglers positioned in the 13th through 50th spot, it’s the end of the road at Dardanelle and on to Wheeler.
VanDam making it look easy
It’s almost expected for Kevin VanDam to make a move towards the top spot as a tournament week wears on, so there are no surprises to see that he’s in third place heading to the weekend.
However, he Kevin pointed out that what looks so easy from the stage is quite the opposite in real time. “It’s looks good when you weigh in, but it was hard work to get there, I promise,” he said.
“I definitely learned some things yesterday, and the weather today helped too, but when this weather hits…who knows?”
Knowing that the weatherman is promising for the arctic blast to turn brutally cold, VanDam did all he could to better his chances at surviving until Sunday while the bass were biting. “I tried to catch as much as I could today just because I knew that it was going to get tougher over the next couple of days,” he said.
“I’m definitely in a good area that has a ton of fish in it, but if it gets cold I think it’s going to hurt them. Fortunately I’ve got another little area that I think should be good if it does turn cold, so we’ll see.”
Kevin pointed out that while cold fronts aren’t at all uncommon this time of the year, he doesn’t have a wealth of experience fishing river systems in the spring to know how it will respond.
As such, tomorrow is virtually a clean slate for him. “I’ve just not had a lot of experience on a waterway like this in the spring when it does get cold,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t know exactly what to expect.
“This is a really good fishery, so I feel like there’s plenty of fish out there. Again though, I’m not worried about anything but the weather.”
KVD storms to 3rd place on day 2
VanDam is sharing his primary spot with a bevy of other competitors, most of whom will be back in action tomorrow.
“The area’s real good, without a doubt,” he said. “We’ll just have to see how it all shakes out.
“The weather concerns me more than anything because it’s supposed to get real cold. A lot of these fish are shallow and I don’t know what it’ll do to them. I definitely don’t see them being as active.”
He caught “quite a few” keepers, but nothing over 4 pounds. He only needed about an hour to compile a limit.
“With so many people in the area, I’m moving around quite a bit. And I’m throwing the kitchen sink at them.”
Mark Menendez - 55-7
1. 17-12, 2. 21-8, 3. 16-3
Kevin VanDam - 53-4
1. 15-6, 2. 18-6, 3. 19-8
Chris Lane - 48-1
1. 15-14, 2. 14-8, 3. 17-11
Jim Murray - 45-9
1. 12-0, 2. 19-3, 3. 14-6
Denny Brauer - 43-8
1. 16-6, 2. 15-5, 3. 11-13
Skeet Reese - 42-12
1. 15-13, 2. 13-9, 3. 13-6
Cliff Pace - 40-8
1. 16-11, 2. 21-12, 3. 2-1
Fred Roumbanis - 40-5
1. 16-12, 2. 15-5, 3. 8-4
Mark Herren - 39-8
1. 17-1, 2. 15-7, 3. 7-0
Alton Jones - 39-3
1. 17-5, 2. 14-14, 3. 7-0
Greg Vinson - 35-9
1. 9-1, 2. 21-14, 3. 4-10
Bradley Hallman - 28-14
1. 10-10, 2. 18-4, 3. 0-0
History & Notes;
Day 1: Mark Menendez — Paducah, KY — 6-00
Day 2: Timmy Horton — Muscle Shoals, AL — 7-08
Day 3: Denny Brauer — 5-07
Day 1 stats
100 anglers, 41 limits, 14 fours, 9 threes, 18 twos, 16 ones, two zeroes