Kevin VanDam Does It Again and Wins Angler of the Year for 2008
Stay Confident, Trust Your Instincts and Fish Strike King Crankbaits
Editor’s Note: There’s no more-coveted prize in all of tournament bass fishing than winning BASS Angler of the Year. “This is probably the most difficult of all the goals an angler can achieve,” says Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, after winning his fourth Angler of the Year title in 2008, while fishing the Elite Series with 200 of the best bass fishermen in the world, the Angler of the Year must score the most points based on his finish in 11 tournaments. This year VanDam won two tournaments and finished in the money in all but one tournament, amassing right at $500,000 in tournament winnings for the year. The Angler-of-the-Year check for $250,000 put his total tournament winnings on the BASS circuit to date at over $3 million, making VanDam the first bass fisherman to ever break the $3-million mark in tournament winnings.
Question: Kevin, what does it mean winning the Angler-of-the-Year title for the fourth time in 2008 mean to you?
VanDam: This Angler-of-the-Year trophy and title is extremely special this year, because every year the competition gets harder, and the other fishermen get better. Winning Angler of the Year is very difficult to accomplish and to win it is very gratifying and very humbling, especially the way that I won in the last tournament of the season.
Question: What happened in that last tournament?
VanDam: I was behind by 20 points going into the final event. But in that final event, I was able to catch enough fish to take over the lead.
Question: What was the magic that allowed you to beat some of the best bass fishermen in the world this year over 11 tournaments?
VanDam: I had some really-good events this year. I had two wins and a second-place finish, which gave me a lot of extra points. Then I didn’t have any really-terrible tournaments the rest of the year. I didn’t miss getting a paycheck but one time this year, but even then I was only a few points away from a payday.
Question: Last year you finished second in the Angler-of-the-Year race, and you won Angler of the Year this year. What are you doing to keep that high level of concentration and consistency in tournament bass fishing?
VanDam: I fish my own style. I do my own thing, and I trust my instincts. I believe it’s knowing what your strengths are, believing in your style of fishing, and sticking to what you believe you do best, regardless of information you receive from others. I fish the techniques, lures and patterns that I have confidence in – no matter where I travel and fish throughout the country.
Question: What do you have confidence in, and what are your strengths?
VanDam: I’m a power-bait fisherman. I like to fish fast, cover a lot of water and find actively-feeding bass. I like crankbaits, spinner baits and jerkbaits – fast-moving baits with which I can cover a lot of water. I like to trigger reaction strikes, even when bass aren’t biting. I have a high body metabolism and I know it. So I make that an advantage, rather than a liability.
Question: Kevin, if you had to pick a single bait that played the biggest role in your ability to win Angler of the Year, what lure would that be? What was the most-critical lure in your arsenal this year?
VanDam: Definitely the Sexy Shad crankbaits. Whether it was a lipless crankbait like the Red Eye Shad or a Strike King Series 5 or Series 6 crankbait, I scored two wins and a second-place fishing these crankbaits in the Sexy Shad color. I caught the majority of my bass on the new 3/4-ounce Red Eye Shad in a tournament on Clarks Hill Reservoir, north of Augusta, Georgia. I also caught some of my fish on the King Shad in the Sexy Shad color. The Strike King crankbaits in the Sexy Shad color have consistently been my most-dependable lures for catching bass in tournaments all over the nation.
Question: Kevin, crankbaits are one of the oldest forms of bass lures. Why do they still consistently catch bass?
VanDam: A lot of my crankbait success has to do with the time of year I fish them and the bass’s seasonal migration patterns. But also, crankbaits imitate shad, the primary forage of largemouth bass throughout the country. I’ve found that you can always catch bass on crankbaits. This season, crankbaits have been my most-dependable lures.
Question: Kevin, the Sexy Shad color has been the hottest color of crankbait this year. What is it about that color that makes bass bite, and why is it out-producing other shad colors?
VanDam: This color is very natural, it’s very realistic, and I have a lot of confidence in it. When I’ve got that color of lure tied on my line, I just feel like I’m going to catch bass. I think I work harder and am more focused and concentrate more when I’m fishing the color and the lure that I know will catch bass. Confidence is a big part of tournament bass fishing, and I have confidence in that color because it consistently produces bass for me.
To learn more about Strike King’s top-quality lures, go to www.strikeking.com.
Tomorrow: Know What Works for You and Be Ready to Change