Kevin VanDam Adds the 2010 Bassmaster Classic Win Championship to His 2009 Angler-of-the-Year Title
How VanDam Felt about Winning the 2010 Bassmaster Classic
Editor’s Note: Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, won the 2010 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake near Birmingham, Alabama, on February 21, 2010. VanDam also won the 2009 BASS Angler of the Year Championship in September, 2009, earning almost $3/4-million in bass-tournament money from these two wins in less than 6 months. He also jumped to the top of the leader board for all-time tournament winnings with a total of more than $4-1/2-million. The number-one question on every bass fisherman’s mind is, “How does Kevin do that?” This week, we’ll take an in-depth look at how, why, where and with what lures VanDam won the 2010 Bassmaster Classic. You’ll learn the mental and the physical processes VanDam employs to be one of the best bass fishermen the world ever has seen.
Question: What did you feel like when you were standing on the stage at the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, heard the winning weight for the final day of fishing and realized that once again, you’d won the Bassmaster Classic and $500,000 in prize money and would be crowned one of the best bass fishermen ever?
VanDam: Winning the Bassmaster Classic gets sweeter every time. I know how hard winning that tournament is, and I really appreciate the win and am humbled by it. The Bassmaster Classic is the biggest event in the sport of bass fishing each year. I believe that winning the Angler-of-the-Year title on the BASS circuit is a more-difficult accomplishment, because this title is an evaluation of your performance as a fisherman throughout the entire bass-fishing season. But the Bassmaster Classic is the World Series of bass fishing, overall it’s the biggest event that a fisherman can compete in, and to win it is a tremendous accomplishment.
Question: Kevin, what did you receive for winning Angler of the Year?
Question: In your wildest dreams, have you ever thought you could have accomplished what you’ve done in the last 6 months by winning both the Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year?
VanDam: Every tournament I enter, and for that matter every tournament that every other bass fisherman enters, we all plan to win. But the reality of our sport is that isn’t what always happens. You lose more times than you win. Therefore, winning the Classic is a really-special accomplishment.
Question: Let’s analyze the tournament, and see what allowed you to win. Why did you pick Beeswax Creek on Lay Lake as the area where you’d make your stand and live or die with the fish you caught there?
VanDam: The decision to fish Beeswax Creek went back much further than the practice days for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic. I had already fished two Classics on Lay Lake, one of those Classics in 2007, and that Classic was held at the same time of year as this year’s Classic. I didn’t go to Lay Lake to scout before the lake was off-limits, because I knew that in February, cold fronts and warm fronts would move in and water levels on Lay Lake would fluctuate and change. I wanted to be as current as possible with the information I gathered during the official practice days just before the 2010 Classic started. In 2007 at that Bassmaster Classic in February on Lay Lake, I was leading the tournament going into the final day. However, I finished that Classic in third place, because the conditions on the water changed. In 2007, I also fished in Beeswax Creek with Strike King’s Red Eye Shad. I had a chance to win the Classic, since I on had the winning bass, but I lost it.
When I went to the 2010 Classic, I also had the knowledge of the weather patterns on Lay Lake for the last several months before the tournament. I noticed that Alabama had had some super-cold weather for that state and quite a bit of rain just before the Classic started. During the month of January, 2010, rain had come down almost constantly on the Lay Lake area, so I knew the lake had been high, muddy and really cold in the previous weeks. Those conditions were the same ones I found during the official practice days just before the Classic began. I also knew that the spotted bass in Lay Lake didn’t like cold, muddy water and would be really hard to catch. Therefore, I decided to focus my efforts in the 2010 Classic on trying to catch largemouth bass.
To find and catch those largemouths, I decided I’d have to locate some very-good matted vegetation or underwater grass to which the largemouths could relate. During the official practice, I looked for those two types of cover. I fished the Red Eye Shad over and through underwater grass, and I flipped the grass mats with a Strike King Rodent. During practice, I realized that the only bait I could really catch a lot of bass on was the Red Eye Shad. I also discovered that Beeswax Creek homed the most underwater grass of any section of the lake. From what I learned in the 2007 Bassmaster Classic, I decided to really concentrate on fishing Beeswax Creek and tried to expand my knowledge of that creek and where the bass should be holding for the 2010 Classic. I found these fish in 2007, when the water temperature wasn’t as cold as it was in 2010. However, in one day of official practice in Beeswax Creek in 2010, I had a really-good day. In 2007, we had a warming trend come through Lay Lake that caused the bass to scatter. However, with this cold front we had in 2010, I thought the bass would be more concentrated.
During the 2007 Classic, I caught several bass off a stump, and in practice for the 2010 Classic, I caught a 4-pound largemouth off that same stump right on the edge of a channel. So, I felt certain it would be a very-productive place to catch several bass. As tough as practice was before the 2010 Classic for everyone, I’d caught that nice bass and had another good bite in a very-short time. So, I felt sure that this part of Lay Lake’s Beeswax Creek was holding bass. I decided to start my tournament there. I was also fortunate because on the first day, I was the first boat out to start the tournament because I was Angler of the Year. I returned to Beeswax Creek, before anyone else could get there.
Tomorrow: Fishing the Red Eye Shad in #406 and the Gold Sexy Shad Colors Pays Off for Kevin VanDam in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic