Bass Tournaments – How to Win Them with Bass Angler Kevin VanDam
Win a Bass Tournament Before You Leave the House with Kevin VanDam
Editor’s Note: One of the most-successful bass fishermen of our era is Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Kevin VanDam, who has won more than 100-bass tournaments in his career and the Bassmaster Classic twice and has earned the title of BASS Angler of the Year five times, including the 2009 title. VanDam will be competing for his third Bassmaster Classic win in February, 2010, on Lay Lake near Birmingham, Alabama. This week, VanDam will give us his five secrets for winning a bass tournament.
Question: Kevin, what are the five keys to giving yourself a chance to win a bass tournament?
VanDam: There are several steps you must take before you even go to the tournament to give yourself the best chance to win. First, you must know the weather conditions before you leave home, and what the conditions will be when you arrive at the tournament. Like a weatherman, I track the weather the week before the tournament. The weather patterns prior to the tournament and the weather forecast for the day or the week of the tournament are critical to know ahead of time, because they will tell you how to practice.
For instance, if I’ll be competing in a Saturday tournament, and the weather forecast is for a huge storm with high winds, I know I’ll have to practice in areas with protected water where I can fish. If in the early spring, the weather has been really cold, but a warm front’s coming through the day before the tournament, and then during the tournament you’ll have 80-degree weather, plenty of sun and clear skies, you need to practice knowing that the bass will move toward the shallow water, which will warm-up first, in preparation to spawn. Although the weather may change, having a thorough knowledge of the seasonal weather patterns for the time of year when the tournament will be held and the weather forecast days before the tournament drastically can increase your odds for success. I’ve found that by thinking ahead of the tournament, practicing for what the weather will be during the tournament and being able to adjust when a front moves in or out is a key part of my strategy to giving myself the best chance to win a bass tournament.
Tomorrow, I’ll explain how being organized can buy you more time to fish and dramatically increase your odds for catching bass. As you organize your tackle, equipment, boat, electronics and vehicle, you not only have to plan to win, you also have to plan for disaster. Know the location of the equipment you’ll need during the tournament from your electronics, boat and motors to your ChapStick and sunscreen. All these elements and many more will determine whether you win or lose. On day three, I’ll tell you how to not over-practice if you want to win. For many years, I tried to learn too much in practice, which caused me to not be as successful as I could be and to waste valuable time fishing in areas where bass weren’t holding. Yes, it’s possible to learn too much in practice, and on day three, I’ll tell you what this means. Day four, I’ll tell you how to maximize your opportunity to win every time you get a bite. Many times we don’t win bass tournaments because we lose the opportunities we have. During a day of fishing, you often will have one or two chances to win. What you do with those chances plays a major role in whether you win or lose the event. On day five, I’ll discuss whether you really want to win. Many people go to a bass tournament and fish just to make sure they don’t lose. Coming in with a limit of bass, regardless of size, or getting a check in a tournament is far-more important to them than winning. If you really want to win a bass tournament, abandon this type of mindset. On day five, I’ll show you how to do this and why it’s not easy but important to your winning a tournament.
Tomorrow: Getting Your Stuff Together and Keeping It Together to Win with Kevin VanDam