Editor’s Note: Seven Bassmaster Angler-of-the-Year titles, four of those consecutively, and four Bassmaster Classic Championships make Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of the most-consistent bass anglers on the professional-bass-fishing circuit today. Here’s what VanDam says about his secrets to consistency.
I fish the spinner bait a lot, depending on the conditions. Remember, the trendsetters in tackle usually come from the Bassmaster Elite Series and the Major League Fishing circuits. The states, the rivers and the lakes where the tournaments are set-up have a lot to do with the types of lures I’ll fish to catch the bass. For instance, we fish different lakes at various times of the year more now than we have in the past. Often the professional bass-fishing tournaments have occurred after the spawn and in the summer months when the bass have moved offshore. Then we need to fish deeper than we do in the early spring and the early fall. So, when the bass are moving-out to deep water, the crankbait becomes the dominant lure I’ll use to catch those post-spawn bass. For instance, during the first day of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta in February, the only bait I threw was a spinner bait. I catch tons of bass on a spinner bait all the time.
The Burner spinner bait (https://www.strikeking.com/) lets me fish really fast close to the surface of the water, and the Bottom Dweller allows me to get-down in deep water and crawl on the bottom. Much of my early success was with spinner baits, because the tournaments were held during the time of year that the spinner bait was the best tool to use. Those spinner baits still catch tons of bass. One of the keys to my success at catching bass at any time of the year is being able to identify and use the best lure to find and catch the bass at the time of year and under the weather and the water conditions we have to fish in each tournament.
I haven’t abandoned the spinner bait, but because we’re fishing more postspawn tournaments, the crankbait has been a better tool for me out in deep and extremely-shallow water. Also, we fish a lot of lakes where many anglers fish spinner baits. To give the bass a different look, I’ll fish a crankbait in a spot that others may say is a spinner-bait spot. By fishing a crankbait in that area, I’m able to present a lure to the bass that they may not have seen in that location for a long time. This difference in lures may generate strikes that I won’t have gotten if I fish the spinner bait like everyone else. Too, I believe in changing the look of the spinner bait. At the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament on West Point Lake in LaGrange, Georgia, in May of 2011, I caught a number of bass using the Baby Burner spinner bait. A spinner bait is much like a plastic worm. To consistently catch bass, you’ve always got to have a spinner bait tied-onto one of the rods on your casting deck.
When it comes to favorite colors and weights of spinner baits, I use whatever size spinner bait fits the conditions I’m fishing on that day. At any time I’m practicing or fishing, I’ll have at least 500-different spinner baits in my boat. I’ve got spinner baits from as little as the 1/4-ounce Burner to the 1-3/8-ounce Bottom Dweller. One of my favorite colors for clear-water situations is the blue shad, and I like the chartreuse Sexy-Shad color also, especially if the water has a little stain or color to it. The number-one selling color spinner bait every year is chartreuse-and-white. But that chartreuse Sexy-Shad color is more productive for me than the standard chartreuse-and-white.
To learn more about Kevin VanDam and his fishing, go to www.kevinvandam.com.
To learn more about catching bass, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Win a Bass Tournament: Personal Lessons from 8 Pro Bass Fishermen at http://amzn.to/Wkbyxk, and available in Kindle and print versions.
Tomorrow: Fish New Lures to Catch More Bass with Kevin VanDam