Championship Week — Looking back
Sep 19, 2009 - 9:22 PM (1:54)
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The first Postseason in BASS history wraps up with the top 12 anglers in the world gunning for the top spot
Sep 19, 2009 - 8:58 PM
“I knew what I had to do in order to win today after leaving the door open last week at Lake Jordan,” he said. “I had a good day yesterday, and felt confident that I could do it again today, but things just don’t work out for me that way.
“I’ve never been a position where I had to count on other guys to catch them in order to win. It’s definitely a nail-biting experience that this new format creates because a lot of it is completely out of your control.”
Spending his time at the River out in the current, Kevin explained that he focused on subtle irregularities along the river channel using either a Series 3 StrikeKing crankbait in Sexy Shad or a StrikeKing Caffeine Tube. “I focused on areas where the spotted bass could set up as in ambush,” he said.
“If it had a little corner or a turn, or a super-shallow spot, that’s where I would target. I was running a lot of these little places throughout the day, and sooner or later you’d run into them. I would usually catch two or three at each spot, but you pulled the school up you’d have to let them reposition before you could catch anymore.”
VanDam explained that the Angler of the Year title is what every angler works for all year long, and it’s the one title that is revered among his peers due to the effort required. “You can do a lot of things in this sport, but the Angler of the Year title is most prestigious title there is,” he said.
“This is my fifth one of them, and I can tell you that each one of them is sweeter than the one before it because of the increased level of competition that I’ve had to face in order to earn it.”
With trophy in hand VanDam was finally able to reflect on the week he’d had – particularly that first day at Lake Jordan. “I just couldn’t believe the day that I had,” he said. “To be totally honest with you, I was just amazed at how badly I’d executed.
“I had a chance for a really great day, and really, to be able to bounce back – because you can’t imagine how bad things went – and actually weigh in a 10-pound bag was really special.”
Keeping himself in contention after that miserable first day by posting a solid second day weight is what Kevin credits to keeping him in the hunt. “It’s impossible to completely recover in a two-day tournament because everyone else is going to keep catching them too,” he said. “Fortunately I posted just enough weight to not completely take myself out of it at Jordan.
“Had I not been able to have as strong a week her at the River as I ultimately did, it would be pretty easy to look back at that first day and all of the fish that I lost as being the culprit.”
In the days and weeks to come, there will be an unending amount of comparisons made to VanDam and Roland Martin given their respective domination during their reigning era. However, as Kevin pointed out, there’s also a bittersweet side to all of it – despite and comparisons that may be forthcoming.
“You have to understand that as much time as we all spend together out here on the road all of these guys are really like a second family,” he said. “It’s always a tough time because you always want to see your friends do well. It’s tough in that regard, but that’s what competition is about.”
Sep 18, 2009 - 10:50 PM
“I’m utterly shocked right now,” said KVD, who has three Bassmaster Classic victories. “After the first tournament(Trophy Chase), everything seemed to go wrong and I didn’t think I had much of a shot. But I knew I had to battle through it. This format is definitely intense and things seemed to work out for me.”
“I’m overwhelmed, You can do a lot of things in this sport but to the anglers, the Angler of the Year is the real deal. Every time I win one of these, it makes me want to win even more. It’s just really special.”
Sep 18, 2009 - 8:27 PM
Kevin made a dramatic jump from 2nd place to snatch his 5 Angler of the Year trophy today, details coming in…
Sep 18, 2009 - 1:43 PM
12:48 p.m. ET
After a long run in which he managed to lose a few spectator boats, VanDam starts fishing a cut between two islands with a white or pearl soft-plastic jerkbait. He is fishing it with a quick retrieve, sometimes letting it pause. It looks like the water is finally getting down south. That or they are pulling less water out of this dam, because the river level has risen down here and the water is a touch cloudier.
With a good limit already in the well, the fate of the TTBAOY is out of his hands. VanDam did his part, now it comes down to Skeet and the rest of the field. I have to believe that VanDam has this tournament locked up. I wonder why he isn’t back at the dock pulling a Timmy Horton and eating some pizza.
I guess he wants to continue upgrading. He hooks up on the soft jerkbait with a largemouth that looks to be about 2.5 pounds. VanDam culls quickly in the bottom of the boat and it is hard to tell if that fish helps him or not. If it does, it’s not by much.
12:10 p.m. ET
The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is technically a two-man race, but it’s going to be affected by a lot more than two anglers.
At this point, VanDam can put up his rods and come in. Unless Iaconelli goes on an absolute tear and catches 20 pounds today, VanDam has won the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph.
So, it has come down to Skeet Reese and the rest of the field. Here’s how we have the standings on BASSTrakk at the moment.
1 Kevin VanDam, 27 lbs 7 oz
2 Michael Iaconelli, 22 lbs 9 oz
3 Gary Klein, 15 lbs 9 oz
4 Skeet Reese, 14 lbs 10 oz
5 Kelly Jordon, 14 lbs 7 oz
6 Randy Howell, 14 lbs 0 oz
Klein has a limit and Reese only has two fish, so he has a good chance to jump Klein. That would put him in third. We’ll keep an eye on things.
11:12 a.m. ET
We thought it might take a little longer to connect with leader Kevin VanDam, but he is fishing a spot about halfway into the 45-mile run to where we saw him yesterday.
No surprise, he has a big flotilla of spectators, probably numbering 15 boats. That’s a lot for the Alabama River.
Right now he looks like he’s on one of the Tennessee River systems, throwing what looks like a crankbait around a main-channel marker. It’s some sort of shad imitator and he’s fishing it quickly through the current.
Sep 18, 2009 - 11:03 AM
With the third quarter officially over, it’s safe to say that Lake Jordan provoked the most dangerous man in bass fishing to seek revenge. Historically speaking, when that happens it’s all but over. VanDam, while not setting the water on fire, was able to at least generate a mild smolder as his 14-pound bag was the best by over three pounds.
What’s more important is the fact that he’s confident he’s on the winning fish, getting them to continue to cooperate, however, is a question that only Friday can resolve. “I really had a decent day, although the muddy water sort of threw me a curve for a little bit,” VanDam said.
“The biggest thing is that I just didn’t get any quality bites. I’m around them, and I really felt sure that I would get a couple of nice fish today.”
Based on VanDam’s confidence, tomorrow might not bode well if you’re trying to hang on to a points lead. “The big fish were there the other day, but today they weren’t,” he said. “The current swell stirred things up, but the water is really clearing fast…and I know that the big ones are still there.”
Behind in the Chase by 6 points, a solid showing tomorrow could seal number five for VanDam, but only if Reese falls below 4th place. “I feel really good about things right now,” he said. “I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do when I got here, and so far everything is working well for me.”
Sep 18, 2009 - 10:39 AM
Sep 17, 2009 - 11:02 PM
“Tomorrow is my day, I promise you that,”
Sep 17, 2009 - 10:59 PM
Just when it looked like Skeet Reese had a stranglehold on his second Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, Kevin VanDam — yet again — proved why he is considered the best angler on the planet.
VanDam, a four-time AOY, did his part by lapping the field at the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph on the Alabama River with 14 pounds, 3 ounces, which established a solid lead. But Reese didn’t falter quite as much as projected — he weighed a solid five-fish limit of 10-5 — and earned a tie for third place in the competition.
VanDam was a completely different person than he was six days ago before the start of the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase on Lake Jordan.
Last Friday, he looked a little frazzled, his bite wasn’t working and he was very much not the VanDam everyone has grown accustomed to.
After weighing in almost four pounds more than second place on the Alabama River, he was back to his old self. He was cordial on stage, talking about mud, current and a tough bite, but backstage he said he felt like he missed them.
“Tomorrow is my day, I promise you that,” he said.
Even if he didn’t feel confident, you can pretty much lock him in as the winner. On this river, 4 pounds is nearly insurmountable.
“The other guys in the field have to catch them and Skeet has to have a tough day,” he said. “After last week, I knew I would have to win. I was disappointed at Jordan — that was costly.”
It may be too little, too late, but VanDam is doing his part now. He sure had made Friday intriguing.
“I actually thought I could do a little bit better,” said VanDam, who has earned more than $3 million in his BASS career. “I’m looking forward to Friday. I want to win very bad and I feel confident on the River. I know where they live.”
Sep 16, 2009 - 10:22 AM
12:31 p.m. ET
The anglers are lined up down one side of the canal. First Ike, then Skeet and KJ is closest to the dam. KVD and Swindle are trying to stay away from the crowd. You can’t get too far when the canal is only 50 yards wide.
10:05 a.m. ET
Running wide-open in the rain is like running into a faceful of bird shot. The rain has let up for the moment and other boats are showing up. Gary Klein just went by. KVD is in the bow, casting and winding. “Hit them and go. This is not a fishery where you can just put the trolling motor down for long” says Kevin.
9 a.m. ET
It’s raining pretty good. Out come the rain suits. KVD is spot-fishing. He’s hit seven different spots since we left Powder Keg. We just stopped at a place that’s going to get about a half-dozen casts. It’s raining harder now; time out.
8:40 a.m. ET
KVD just caught a small keeper fishing a treetop. It was just one of a million such places, but you could throw at all of them and not catch a bass off most of them; fish are where you find them. KVD is fishing quickly and moving. A huge bank of black clouds are heading our way. “Do you have a rainsuit?” Kevin asks. Most definitely, I answer. Another treetop. “Look at all the bait,” Kevin says as his lure sends up a shower of minnows when it lands. “They sure don’t have to work hard for their food,” he says of the bass. No doubt; the Alabama River is loaded with forage fish. KVD spoke with his wife Sherry a while ago to check on things back in Michigan. Kevin calls Sherry first thing and last thing, and times in between. Kevin’s family is the engine that drives his incredible work ethic and will to succeed.