2014 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Table Rock Lake
The most recent Bassmaster tournament at Table Rock, a Bass Pro Shops Central Open, was encouraging. Kansan Casey Scanlon won that event in late April 2012 with a 3-day total of 49 pounds, 4 ounces. His most productive pattern was running a Strike King 6XD crankbait over brushpiles and points near spawning pockets 13 to 20 feet deep.
Those were likely postspawn bass. The timing for the 2014 Elite tournament should make for a prespawn slugfest, believes Elite Series pro Brian Snowden. He lives minutes from Table Rock and has fished and guided here for years.
“At that time of year, the bass are normally prespawn,” Snowden says. “The spawn usually happens the second or third week in April. Of course, that’s dictated by how cold the winter is.”
The bass cover at Table Rock is predominantly rock, stumps, standing trees, laydowns and whatever shoreline cover is flooded should the water level be high. Snowden believes most of the bass will be caught no deeper than 15 feet.
KVD's final day tackle
What tackle is Kevin VanDam using today? He's throwing a Strike King KVD Series Jerkbait, the crystal shad color. He's using the KVD signature Quantum rods and his signature Quantum reels. I mentioned earlier he's using KVD hooks from Mustad. Clearly Kevin stands behind the products he helps create!
KVD fans brave the cold Sunday to keep track of his race for the top.
KVD's streak alive, chasing himself
To put Kevin VanDam's streak of 29 straight Top 50 finishes in perspective, we're halfway through three tournaments this year and only 11 anglers have finished in the Top 50 all three times. Twenty (20) others have missed every cut this year, and two anglers have yet to earn an AOY point (haven't finished in the top 100). Among the anglers who have missed every cut so far this year are 2014 Bassmaster Classic qualifiers Jonathon VanDam, Greg Vinson, and Chris Zaldain. There's a lot of fishing left this season, but those anglers will be very anxious to post a good finish at Toledo Bend next month.
Though he lost his consecutive Top 50 streak at the St. Johns River (29 straight), Kevin VanDam has the longest current streak of limit catches in the Elite Series at 29 (through Day 3 at Table Rock). He's slightly more than halfway to the record (57) ... also by KVD.
It's gonna be close
Just got word from VanDam's cameraman that KVD just boated a 4-plus and he now has about 16 pounds or more.
Just how much more won't be known until they hit the scales.
But if it's close then we have a virtual tie with three anglers. But KVD may have the advantage. It's hard to say at this point but it makes the outcome worth watching: three giants going head to head, ounce for ounce.
KVD's a hook freak
Kevin VanDam has taken a brief timeout from fishing to change out his hooks. He's sitting down in his boat for this little operation.
After catching a bunch of fish today, approximately a dozen, and dragging his lures through a lot of wood, it appears Kevin believes it's time for sharper hooks.
Darren Jacobson, who has photographed KVD fishing many times, calls him a "hook freak."
In case you're wondering, Kevin is using Mustad Ultrapoint KVD Triple Grip Treble Hooks.
I find myself wondering, why not just put on a new lure? Kevin can certainly afford that. Well the answer is once you find a jerk bait that's working you don't want to put it down. There may be a tiny difference in the same jerk bait from the same manufacturer. And sometimes it's a confidence thing. Once an angler has confidence in a lure, he doesn't want to put it down. Better to put on new, sharper hooks. On day 4 in a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament that attention to detail could be the difference between winning and losing.
We drifted close to Kevin VanDam for a little chat. He estimates he has 12 pounds of bass in his livewell. I asked if he'd mind turning down the wind. He smiled and said, "no, turn it up."
Sure enough, the wind appears to be helping him. KVD caught a 3-pounder a few minutes ago and culled up.
Well, as I was typing he caught another fish and culled again.
Davis is the antithesis of KVD when it comes to speed. While KVD covers a lot of water, Davis has been slow and meticulous. We are still in the first place he started and Davis has easily caught two dozen fish in that time, often sitting his boat in the same place for several minutes casting to the same place. It's been said he's a master at milking a school of fish. You can see that mastery today and it comes one slow cast after the other.
Kevin VanDam is on fire, catching two fish with three casts. The first fish was a 3-pounder or more. He's throwing a crankbait now.
KVD jumps to 3rd on day 3 at Table Rock!
KVD is excited
Kevin is moving about every 15 minutes. His strategy appears to be to fish the point first and then work his way down the bank into the cove. Then he'll pull up the trolling motor and blast off to the next point. He's alternating between a jerk bait and a crank bait.
"VanDam is ripping that jerk bait faster than anyone I've ever seen," said Jacobson. "He's fishing it like he does in the Great Lakes. A lot of the other guys are fishing much slower."
We're hearing lots of exited chatter between Kevin VanDam and his ESPN2 cameraman. And with good reason. This is his first top 12 in two years (March 2012 at Okeechobee) and his first big bass of the day since June 2012 (Toledo Bend). Thanks to Ken Duke for those numbers.
KVD ended Day 3 in 3rd place. He's got chance at a victory. Most great athletes are great closers. It's going to be fun to see if Kevin can close the deal today.
Day 4 of Table Rock is starting much warmer than Day 3 when it was 27 degrees. Today it's 43 and balmy by comparison. We had a brisk 15 minute ride, reaching a top speed of 62 mph, following Kevin VanDam to his first spot in the Indian Point area.
KVD is back!
Kevin VanDam is guaranteed his best Elite Series finish since March 2012 when he was 8th at Lake Okeechobee. He had the daily big bass for the first time since June 2012 (Toledo Bend) and the heaviest catch of the day for the first time since March 2011 (Harris Chain). He has not finished in the Top 3 since June 2011.
KVD carries the current limit record
Though he lost his consecutive Top 50 streak at 29, Kevin VanDam has the longest current streak of limit catches in the Elite Series at 26. The record is 57 (also by KVD). The next longest consecutive limit streak currently alive in the Elites belongs to Alton Jones at 22.
Day 3 update with KVD
Kevin culling on day1 - Table Rock
KVD with number 4! - Day 1 on Table Rock
Mike McClelland - 61-15
1. 15-6, 2. 16-14, 3. 17-9, 4. 12-2
Mark Davis - 61-2
1. 18-8, 2. 15-3, 3. 11-12, 4. 15-11
Greg Hackney - 60-15
1. 16-0, 2. 14-10, 3. 13-14, 4. 16-7
Aaron Martens - 60-1
1. 18-11, 2. 14-5, 3. 12-14, 4. 14-3
Kevin VanDam - 59-15
1. 14-0, 2. 12-0, 3. 19-7, 4. 14-8
Edwin Evers - 59-11
1. 17-4, 2. 13-9, 3. 13-1, 4. 15-13
Jeff Kriet - 59-5
1. 14-10, 2. 14-4, 3. 15-13, 4. 14-10
Brandon Palaniuk - 59-1
1. 16-13, 2. 13-10, 3. 12-10, 4. 16-0
Cliff Prince - 57-15
1. 9-6, 2. 19-10, 3. 12-15, 4. 16-0
Bill Lowen - 55-13
1. 11-6, 2. 14-2, 3. 18-13, 4. 11-8
Kevin Hawk - 54-11
1. 10-6, 2. 16-3, 3. 15-11, 4. 12-7
Jared Lintner - 54-2
1. 12-6, 2. 17-15, 3. 11-2, 4. 12-11
History & Notes;
Day 2: Cliff Pirch - 6-10
Day 3: Kevin VanDam - 7-8
Day 4: Kevin VanDam - 5-3