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2008 Elite Series - Tennessee Triumph


Twelve pounds a day will win here any time of the year“ said KVD, who moved into the lead in Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points after his victory June 15 at Kentucky Lake. “Somebody might find something a little better, but I’d be shocked.

If you have 30 pounds after three days, you’re probably going to be in the top 12 (for Sunday’s final).

Tour Review

KVD leading AOY race

After being in 63rd place Thursday, KVD managed to dodge a bullet in the Bassmaster Elite Series Tennessee Triumph presented by Longhorn.

By making the top 12 cut Sunday, Todd Faircloth had an opportunity to take the lead in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Anglers of the Year race. He had to finish sixth to tie VanDam, and any finish higher would have put Faircloth in the lead.

But when Faircloth moved up only one spot — from 11th to 10th Sunday — it assured VanDam of remaining No. 1, if only by 16 points.

However, Faircloth wouldn’t even have had to make the top 12 to take the points lead if VanDam hadn’t rescued himself from near disaster on both Friday and Saturday. The Kalamazoo, Mich., native made the top 50 cut by only three ounces Friday. Then he caught his biggest bag of the tournament Saturday — 10 pounds, 13 ounces — to move from 49th place to 32nd.

The 2008 AOY race wasn’t going to be won or lost this week. But VanDam appeared to be separating himself from the contenders after finishing in the top 10 in the last three tournanments.

Day 3, KVD moves up again, keeps AOY title hopes in sight

On the subject of Angler of the Year, KVD continued his recovery from that Day One disaster of 7-5, squeaking into the top 50 cut Friday by 3 ounces. And he moved from 49th place to 32nd Saturday — a 34-point difference — with a limit weighing 10-13. It was his biggest bag of the tournament.

If Faircloth manages to finish sixth Sunday, he would tie VanDam with 2,254 AOY points. Anything less than that, and VanDam will have miraculously maintained his lead this week after finishing Day One in 63rd place.

There are two tournaments left in the 11-event Elite Series schedule. Mike McClelland (42nd place here) and Skeet Reese (28th place) will continue to be third and fourth, respectively — and within striking distance of the title, no matter what happens Sunday.

It’s going to be fun,“ said VanDam, who already owns three BASS Angler of the Year titles. “If it wasn’t close, it wouldn’t be fun.

These next two events are going to be nerve-wracking.

“Fun” and “nerve-wracking” usually don’t belong in the same thought. But for the ultra-competitive VanDam, that’s the game he enjoys playing. However, even VanDam’s nerves must have been quivering during the tightrope walk he completed on Old Hickory Lake this week.

Day 2 -- Hanging in there

If KVD ends up winning the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, he may look back on Friday as the day he saved his skin.

Kevin wasn’t confident after coming off the weigh-in stage with limit weighing only 9-13 after being in 63rd place Thursday with 7-5. In fact, VanDam lost a $1 bet with ESPN television host Mark Zona on whether he’d make the 50 cut.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., native made it by all of 3 ounces. VanDam was 49th with 17-2; Byron Velvick took the 50th spot with 17-0; and Aaron Martens finished just out of the cut with 16-14.

Combined with Todd Faircloth falling from 22nd place to 32nd Friday, Skeet Reese dropping from third to 35th, and Mike McClelland moving up slightly from 26th to 22nd, VanDam would maintain his No. 1 spot in the TTBAOY race that he had coming into this event.

But those numbers mean nothing now. With all four of the top contenders making the top 50 cut, it’s Saturday that could prove to be crucial in the Angler of the Year race, since only two tournaments are left.

“I’d love to have a shot tomorrow,” VanDam said, before knowing he would. “I’ve got a whole new game plan because I know I’ve got to bust a big bag.

It’s hard to imagine VanDam having three bad days in a row. But then again, the playing field this week is Old Hickory Lake, where anything could happen, as evidenced by five pros putting zeroes on the scoreboard Friday.

day 1 report from Tennessee

For most of the field, it was a long day. Even KVD, who has finished second and first in the last two Elite Series tournaments, struggled with a limit weighing only 7-5. Based on the standings from Thursday, which aren’t official until Sunday’s finale, VanDam also gave up his lead in TTBAOY points with that 63rd-place ranking.

Todd Faircloth, who was 65 points behind VanDam coming into this event, would have a 20-point lead based on his 22nd-place total of 11-3.

The whole Angler of the Year race would tighten considerably if Thursday’s rankings held through the weekend. Reese would be only nine points behind VanDam, after entering the tournament 145 points back.

Tennessee Triumph preview
“It’s tough this week…I’m not going to lie to you. It’s hard to find a lot of keepers, but there’s a lot of different ways to catch them right now. I’ve been starting shallow and then moving out to the ledges, but it’s just been real tough.

“I’m having trouble staying on anything that’s consistent. I mean, I can catch 13-inch fish all day on just about anything, but getting those three- and four-pounders that you’re going to need is a real challenge.

“It’s going to be interesting for sure.”

2008 Elite Series - Tennessee Triumph
Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville, Tennessee
Jun 26 - Jun 29, 2008


Kevin Wirth - 55-10
1. 17-12, 2. 15-10, 3. 12-1, 4. 10-13
Bill Lowen - 50-5
1. 14-13, 2. 12-6, 3. 8-9, 4. 14-9
Randy Howell - 50-0
1. 13-2, 2. 15-8, 3. 8-7, 4. 12-15
Dean Rojas - 48-12
1. 12-6, 2. 10-5, 3. 14-3, 4. 11-14
Alton Jones - 48-10
1. 10-3, 2. 10-9, 3. 15-11, 4. 12-3
Rick Clunn - 48-10
1. 14-6, 2. 15-1, 3. 12-3, 4. 7-0
Brent Chapman - 47-11
1. 10-2, 2. 12-11, 3. 10-8, 4. 14-6
Ray Sedgwick - 44-14
1. 9-2, 2. 9-11, 3. 15-14, 4. 10-3
Michael Iaconelli - 44-3
1. 11-2, 2. 14-0, 3. 9-12, 4. 9-5
Todd Faircloth - 42-14
1. 11-3, 2. 12-3, 3. 10-10, 4. 8-4
Steve Daniel - 42-4
1. 11-3, 2. 12-3, 3. 10-10, 4. 8-4
Marty Stone - 42-3
1. 16-5, 2. 8-15, 3. 8-11, 4. 8-4
Skeet Reese - 28-6
1. 15-9, 2. 4-4, 3. 8-9
Kevin VanDam - 27-15
1. 7-5, 2. 9-13, 3. 10-13
Mike McClelland - 24-15
1. 11-0, 2. 9-14, 3. 4-1

History & Notes;

Big Bass
Day 1 – Kevin Wirth 6-4
Day 2 – Randy Howell 6-6
Day 3 – Ray Sedgwick 4-7
Day 3 – Steve Daniel 4-7
Day 4 – Brent Chapman 5-8

This Elite stop was moved from the Mississippi River to Tennessee (due to recent flooding).

“Our first priority is the safety of all those involved with BASS events,” said Tom Ricks, general manager and vice president of BASS. “We appreciate the flexibility of both Fort Madison and Hendersonville and we look forward to hosting events at both locations in the near future. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Iowa who have been affected by the recent floods.”

> Lake Name: Old Hickory
> Type of Water: Lowland reservoir on Tennessee’s Cumberland River
> Surface Acres (full pool): 22,500 (97 miles long)
> Primary structure/cover: Ledges, stump flats, laydowns, rocks, docks, some grass
> Primary forage: Threadfin shad
> Average depth: 15 feet
> Species: Largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass
> Length limit: 14 inches for largemouths, 18 for smallmouths and 12 for spots.
> Reputation: Lots of fish, but a lot of non-keepers; gets a lot of pressure
> Weather: Thunderstorms (scattered or isolated) are in the forecast for all 4 tournament days. Temperatures expected to range from the mid 80s to low 90s and winds should be relatively light.
> Water temp: Low to mid 80s
> Water visibility/color: 2 feet/tinged
> Water level: Full pool
> Fish in: 0-18 feet
> Fish phase: Summer
> Primary patterns: Crankbaits, jigs, worms, Carolina rigs, etc.
> Winning weight: 50 pounds (4 days)
> Cut weight (Top 50 after 2 days): 18 pounds
> Check weight: 18 pounds
> Fishing quality (1=poor, 5=great): 2 for Old Hickory
> Biggest factors: Current
> Biggest decision: Fishing the main lake or creeks
> Wildcard: A 6-pounder will go a long, long way here