By Alan McGuckin
Kevin VanDam loves football, archery season for whitetail deer, and thoughts of bass binging on baitfish. And those are just three good reasons the 7-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year calls autumn his favorite time of year.
"Oh yea, there's no doubt life is good this time of year," says VanDam. And football is a large part of October's goodness for him and his treasured family.
"Of course I love my home state Detroit Lions, but I maintain a friendship with Willie Young, an avid angler and pass rush specialist for the Chicago Bears, who used to play for Detroit," he says.
"Plus, my twin sons Jackson and Nicholas are in college at Grand Valley State University. Their football team owns the highest winning percentage in college football history, and we were recently on campus for Family Weekend when the Lakers won 49 to 0," says the ever-competitive VanDam.
But fall is certainly not only about football for the VanDams. They have long had a healthy appetite for whitetail deer hunting, and October 1st kicked off the start of Michigan's archery season that they treasure in much the same way bass covet baitfish during the calendar's fourth quarter.
By Kevin VanDam
Have you noticed I’ve been throwing a jerkbait in tournaments year-round?
Yep, even in summer when the bass move off the flats, especially when I see them suspended in deeper, clear water.
When I go into northern Michigan, where the water is ultra-clear, I can pull fish out off the bottom in 20 feet to hit a standard jerkbait. But that’s not the norm for most of the nation.
That’s why I helped Strike King develop the KVDj300D that gets down to 10 feet or more on 10-pound fluorocarbon line.
(By Kevin VanDam)
Today’s electronics and GPS mapping programs are good – real good!
But those tools aren’t all an angler needs to help him find, develop and run patterns on sizable lakes.
Do you use paper maps and utilize satellite imagery when on the water? I do.
Some anglers believe paper maps are antiquated and useless since they have detailed maps on their graph screens.
But that’s not the case.
By Kevin VanDam
An interesting technique that has emerged on the Bassmaster Elite Series the past couple of years has a place in Michiana.
I’m talking about the use of smaller bodied swimbaits on jigheads and spinning tackle. That fits in just about every Michiana angler’s arsenal.
It has proven to be extremely effective when the water is clear, cool and smallmouth are present. And believe me, largemouth will bite it, too.
The technique has proven to be incredibly effective during late winter through early spring and late fall.
That subtle swimming action you get from these smaller baits is something the fish can’t help but bite in that clear, cooler water.
When swimbaits first came on the scene, the larger, hollow bodied baits with thick paddle tails got everyone’s attention. The Strike King Shadalicious has caught a lot of fish for me, but when conditions are tougher and the water is extremely clear, that big wobble and tail action can be too much.
I’m not saying that those 5- to 6-inch swimbaits won’t work, but under extreme conditions, you might be wiser downsizing your lure.
That’s when a 4-inch or smaller swimbait like the Rage Swimmer with its smaller profile can be more effective. The Rage Swimmer has a slightly fatter body and thinner tail that produces a slower wag that should be deadly on A-rigs and for finesse swimbaiting in cold water.
A good sign that the smaller finesse bait would work is if you see a lot of 3- and 4-inch baitfish swimming around, or if you see bass suspended over structure or around balls of bait. Keep in mind that in clear water bass become sight feeders, so a swimbait that looks natural can be a huge advantage.
I rig finesse swimbaits on jigheads. If it’s weedy or there is wood around, I will use a belly-weight style hook and Texas rig it.
When choosing jig sizes, select the lightest you can use but still keep the bait in the proper depth zone. I throw 1/8, 3/16 and ¼ ounce mostly in water 15 feet or shallower, but if I have to get into a deeper zone I’ll go to 3/8 ounce.
I prefer to fish the baits on 8-pound fluorocarbon because you get better swimming action and more bites. The line doesn’t drag as much as heavier line, so you can maintain bait speed.
A slow, steady retrieve is best, but I will mix it up with periodic pauses so that the bait pendulums back to the bottom. You want the bait swimming slowly slightly above the weeds.
If you get a couple of bites but the bass aren’t real aggressive, experiment with different bait styles to see if a slightly different action, size or color works better.
Donors can win the fishing trip of a lifetime with Kevin VanDam at Omaze.com/KVD
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Bass Pro Shops and the Kevin VanDam (KVD) Foundation today announced plans to give one lucky winner the fishing trip of a lifetime alongside legendary pro angler Kevin VanDam as part of a fundraising campaign benefitting youth programs.
VanDam, winner of 25 professional events, seven-time Angler of the Year recipient and four-time BASSMASTER Classic champion, will take the winner out for an unforgettable day on the water in Memphis and share his best tips and techniques. The fishing trip with VanDam is part of a grand prize package that also includes travel for two to Memphis, a two-night stay at Big Cypress Lodge – located inside Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in downtown Memphis – and a special gear package from KVD sponsors valued at more than $8,000.00.
By Kevin VanDam
Ask a group of anglers what their favorite colors are on a specific Michiana body of water and you’re probably going to get a variety of answers.
That makes you wonder if color really matters, or is it simply a matter of confidence based on previous experiences.
Well, it’s probably a little of both.
There are a handful of basic colors that seem to work just about everywhere. But if you look around the country, there definitely are other colors that seem to work better than the basics.
In some situations water clarity dictates the appropriate color; some basic colors simply look more natural in different lakes. But that isn’t always the case.
I’ve also seen where a subtle color difference in clear water can make all the difference in the world. For example, on the Great Lakes during a mayfly hatch you’re going to catch a lot more fish on pumpkin brown than you will watermelon green, even though watermelon green works great at other times of the year.
That’s a case of matching the hatch during the bass’ shift to different forage.