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Kevin VanDam likes Coleslaw Spinnerbaits

April 22, 2018 1:00:00 PM EDT

  As a Michigan native, Kevin VanDam grew up throwing a lot of spinnerbaits featuring painted blades for smallmouth. Some of the willowleaf blades were painted chartreuse, others were painted white, and when burned at a high retrieve speeds, smallies often crushed them in the typically clearer waters of the Great Lakes region.

 But it was a trip south to Table Rock Lake, MO, for a media gathering in the late 1990s, where VanDam first discovered painted white blades paired with a unique skirt color named for a side dish he always thought was reserved only for fried fish.

 “Stacey King is my buddy and a legendary pro, and he was the first one to show me this blade and skirt color they call “Coleslaw” that’s fairly popular with serious anglers around the Ozark reservoirs like Table Rock and Bull Shoals,” reflects the 7-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Champion.

 Sure enough, while the skirt is primarily white like creamy mayonnaise covered cabbage, it has just a few strands of orange to look like the carrots that make the popular side dish complete. And while you’ll not find any chartreuse in a great dish of your momma’s slaw, there’s even a very slight hint of that too.

 

 “It looks like skirt color you might use in dirty water. But to me it always performs best in really clear, or barely stained, water on a cloudy or rainy day with about a 15 mph wind blowing,” says VanDam.

 “Those painted white blades and that peculiar skirt color, make an awesome silhouette, and while a plain white skirt under painted white blades might get the job done - “Coleslaw” sounds way better – and it dang sure taste better too - even to the bass,” he adds with a grin.

 Kevin’s Coleslaw Equipment: VanDam uses at least a ½ ounce, and often times a heavy ¾ ounce, Strike King spinnerbait to create a larger profile like a big gizzard shad. He always ties it to a 20-pound fluorocarbon line on a large spooled Quantum Smoke HD reel for optimum casting distance. He favors at least a 6.6:1 gear ratio on the reel SHD200SPT, and uses a Quantum 7’ 4” heavy action TourKVD rod TKVDC747XFB to handle the heavier lure.

 Kevin’s Favorite Meal Consisting of Coleslaw:  “Oh hands down, it has to be deep fried yellow perch anywhere around the Great Lakes. That’s a staple dinner where I’m from, especially on Friday nights. And if you’re feeling just a little adventurous, you can even put your slaw on top of the fried perch on a fish sandwich and eat it that way – it doesn’t get any better than that,” smiles VanDam. 

  

  Alan McGuckin

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

  

Jordan Lee has only won two professional bass fishing tournaments in his short 26 years on earth – but both of them are Bassmaster Classic wins – and in doing so, stakes his claim as one of the most iconic anglers in bass fishing history.

 The younger of the Lee Brothers turned a mediocre practice into back-to-back Classic winning history. A feat achieved only by Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam in the prestigious event’s 48 year history.

 “In my wildest dreams, I never thought winning the Classic was going to happen this week, and this just goes to prove you can’t really plan on winning,” says Lee, who holds a degree in marketing from Auburn.

 “It really is overwhelming. I’ve never won a Bassmaster Open. I’ve never won an Elite Series. So I guess there’s just something about this tournament for me,” he pondered.

 He never really got dialed into a pattern in practice, so he essentially “junk fished” his way to the $300,000 win with a mix of jerkbaiting while his boat sat in 35 feet of water, to skipping a soft plastic Strike King stick bait rigged Neko style around docks.

 His primary rods and reels on the final day were a pair of 7’ 2” medium heavy Quantum Vapor spinning rods, paired to Quantum Smoke S3 and Inshore spinning reels.

 “I didn’t have a game plan. I didn’t have one magical spot. I knew as warm as the weather was the docks were going to be a player, and today I saw tons of big bass suspending under every dock – it was just amazing to see that,” says Lee.

 It’s also amazing to see a 26-year-old solidify himself as one of the greatest bass anglers in history, but that’s exactly what the former Carhartt Bassmaster College Series champ proved by becoming only the third man in 48 years to win back-to-back Bassmaster Classics. 

— Most of his big fish - and most of what he caught the final day came on a Smoke Inshore size 30 6.2:1 spinning reel, paired to a 6’ 10” medium heavy Vapor spinning rod to pitch a wacky rigged soft stick bait around boat docks.

— He also caught fish this week on a Smoke 30 5.2:1 spinning reel paired to a 7’ 2” medium heavy Vapor spinning rod to cast soft plastic swimbaits.

— Thirdly he used a Tour S3 casting reel paired to a 6’ 10” medium heavy Vapor casting rod to catch a few fish on a suspending jerkbait.

 SHOP HIS GEAR >

 

Quantum is proud of our team of professional anglers who competed in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic.  Five of the top ten anglers were fishing Quantum rods and reels:

 Matt Lee                      #4

Jacob Powroznik         #5

Casey Ashley              #8

Gerald Swindle          #10

Now That’s Performance Tuned!

 

 

  Alan McGuckin

Tags:

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

  

Team Toyota’s Gerald Swindle is very aware that the Fish Head Spin lure has a legendary reputation on Lake Hartwell, but don’t count on him throwing it. Instead he’ll dance with the girls that got him to his impressive 17th Bassmaster Classic, and he feels good about it.

 “I suck at throwing the Fish Head Spin, because any lure you gotta fish slower than I was at second grade math in 30 feet of water, is not a lure I need to be competing with during the biggest tournament in the world,” says Swindle.

 “An NFL team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl, and then change their whole offense the night before the game, and I’m not going to either,” illustrates the 2-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

 Swindle’s also decided he’s not going into the lawn care business anytime soon either - mostly because he hates raking leaves – especially with his crankbait.

 “The water levels rose very slowly here at Hartwell, so instead of flushing last fall’s leaves out, the bottom is just littered with them, and that’ll make a man cuss when every cast comes back with leaves on his hooks. So I’m throwing a Rapala DT 6 that runs 6-feet deep into 10 and 12 feet of water,” reasons Swindle.

 That approach seems to be in direct conflict with crankbaiting basics that preach the importance of making bottom contact with your lure. But Swindle says Hartwell is different.

 “I’ve been fishing Hartwell since long before I was a full time pro, and the strong presence of blueback herring here in recent years has changed the ballgame. Instead of bass looking on the bottom for crawfish, they’re always looking upward for schools of blueback herring near the surface. So winding that DT 6 through the middle of the water column makes perfect sense here,” he says.

 Swindle will crank with 12-pound Sunline, tied to a 6.1:1 Quantum Smoke S3 reel SM100SPT , and a medium light 7’ 0” Quantum Smoke rod SMC704F. “I don’t want a medium action rod, I want a medium light, because I want the rod to be super forgiving when they eat the crankbait,” he explains.

 The vibrating blade bait or Chatterbait will also be a strong part of his Classic lineup. Mostly because he can fish it fast and cover water.

 “I’m not on a school of fish where I can catch five keepers in a 30 yard stretch. So I need to cover three miles of shoreline that’s covered in dogfennel vegetation, and there’s not many lures that I can cover water faster with than a Chatterbait,” says Swindle.

 Swindle’s hardware for Chatterbaits includes 16-pound line, the affordable 7’ 2” G Force rod he designed for Quantum, and a Smoke S3 6.1:1 reel that’s slow enough to help him keep the lure down in the water column just a bit.

There’s a huge number of fans who would love to see Swindle win his first Classic – and if he does, you can bet he’ll be running the same “offense” that’s led to a highly decorated career thus far. 

  

  Alan McGuckin

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 Quantum pro Jacob Powroznik is a seasoned pro fishing in his fourth Bassmaster Classic, and he made a serious run at winning the Classic here on Lake Hartwell in 2015. Much the opposite, 19-year old Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Champ, Jacob “The Paperboy” Foutz is fishing his very first Classic.

  Despite their contrasting levels of experience, both anglers graciously took a moment to discuss their stress levels, lures that will be used, lake conditions, and more. 

 

Q: What’s your biggest concern or source of stress right now?

Powroznik: Trying to catch a 5-pounder, because a 5-pounder is a game changer here, and so far in practice I haven’t had my hands on one that big.

Foutz: The randomness of the bite. I’ve had bites in 6” of water, and I’ve had bites in 30-feet of water, but I’ve not seen a real defined pattern yet.

Q: What do you like best about Lake Hartwell?

Powroznik: It reminds me of Buggs Island Lake back home with all its red clay points and shoreline, and bass relate really well to that red clay at this time of year.

Foutz: It’s a really diverse fishery. You can fish deep near the dam, or run up the two rivers and fish shallow if you want.

Q: A lot of people say this Classic is anybody’s ballgame to win. Do you agree with that?

Powroznik: Yep, absolutely. Somebody is going to win this Classic that has absolutely no idea they’re going to win it right now.

Foutz: I agree with that. With water levels rising the fish have spread out more, and it’s a real possibility that somebody could stumble into the winning school of fish that may not be expecting to right now.

Q: What four lures can fans at home expect to see Bassmaster Classic competitors casting this week on Lake Hartwell?

Powroznik: Jerkbaits, Shaky Heads, a jig, and a crankbait that will run about 4-feet deep like a Livingston 2.0.

Foutz: Jig, Shaky Head, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.

Q: How much weight will an angler have to average each day to leave this Classic with a Top 10 finish?

Powroznik: 13 pounds a day should get a Top 10 here.

Foutz: I’d say between 12 and 14 pounds a day.

  

  Alan McGuckin

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

6 Bassmaster Classic Questions with Casey Ashley

March 12, 2018 5:00:00 PM EDT

 The Basssmaster Classic returns to Casey Ashley’s home waters of Lake Hartwell this week where he won the 2015 Classic, and the easy-going country boy with a thousand dollar smile was kind enough to invite us into his home for a brief conversation just days before bass fishing’s biggest event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: How are you doing this week before the Classic, as compared to where your head and heart were a few days before the 2015 Classic?

 Casey: “Well, I’d like to tell you I’m more relaxed, but that really isn’t the case, because all the variables I didn’t want to happen like rising water, a lot of warm weather last month, and warmer water temperatures, have all happened, so the fish are kind of in an in-between state and it’s gonna be a grind.”

 Q: Speaking of that 2015 Classic, it’s well-known that your dad, Danny made the winning lure. Your dad is also a really good angler. If we granted him a spot as a competitor in this year’s Classic, how do you think he’d perform against the best anglers in the world?

 Casey: “He probably wouldn’t do too good (grinning), because the fish are in an in-between state versus schooled-up and on specific spots he knows well. Last month’s warm weather pulled the fish up shallow, then it got cold again, but the bass never fully returned to deep water.”

 Q: Speaking of deeper water, in your best estimation what percentage of all the bass weighed-in this week will come from water deeper than 10-feet?

 Casey: I’d guess about 65% will be caught from deeper than 10-feet of water.

 Q: If you could sneak a peek into the rod lockers of all the 2018 Bassmaster Classic competitors, what four lures do you think you’d see the most?

 Casey: Jerkbait, ½ ounce jig, Shaky Head, and a Shad Rap.

 Q: What might surprise fans most about this Classic?

 Casey: Probably the amount of change and fluctuation they’re going to see in the names on the leaderboard, because being consistent in this tournament for three straight days is going to be super challenging.

 Q: You’re a music man. You said that country music group, Alabama’s song “Why Lady Why” had a big influence on your 2015 Bassmaster Classic win. Are there any songs that are influencing you this week?

 Casey: “No, not really. I’m a big fan of Chris Stapleton. His song “Broken Halos” is a great one. But I love listening to a lot of country music songs that never even made it on the radio.”

  

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

Seconds after Jordan Lee was crowned Bassmaster Classic Champion inside Houston’s Minute Maid Park, his slightly older professional bass angling brother Matt, rushed from the bleachers to the stage to provide a congratulatory bear hug.

 Fair to say, the Lee Brothers can be as different as spinning reels and baitcasters. Matt has an engineer’s mind, Jordan majored in marketing. Matt analyzes everything, and Jordan just goes with the flow.

 But ever since they were teens fishing around the protected cove of Lake Guntersville Yacht Club, they’ve fostered dreams of someday fishing in the Bassmaster Classic together.

 And next week … they will. In fact, they’ll become only the fourth pair of brothers to fish a Classic together in the event’s prestigious 48-year history.

 We caught up with them separately to test the waters of their thoughts leading into bass fishing’s biggest event on Lake Hartwell March 16 -18.

 Q: If we’d have stopped you on Auburn’s famed Toomer’s Corner during your college days, and told you that in 2018 you’d be fishing in the Bassmaster Classic with your brother – what would you have said?

 Matt: “I didn’t doubt that Jordan and I would get a chance to fish the Classic together, it was more a mater of how long we’d have to wait. Before I won the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Championship, I figured I’d have to get a job and save enough money to fish professionally. But fortunately, I started fishing professionally right out of college. I’d like to see us finish first and second this year – but preferably I get the win – since Jordan won it last year.”

 Jordan: “I would have said that’s what the plan is. Fishing is something we’re both really passionate about, and I think we both knew we would be together in the Classic at some point.”

 Q: Without peeking in your brother’s rod locker, what two lures can you just about guarantee us he’s taking to Lake Hartwell?

 Matt: Maybe a Jordan Lee Comeback Jig if he’s really optimistic, and a dropshot, as much as he’d rather not dropshot, he knows it’s deadly.

 Jordan: I’ll bet he’s packing swimbaits and wacky worms – For Sure!

 Q: What do you believe will be the biggest challenge at the Bassmaster Classic?

 Matt: “Weather and changing conditions like rising or falling water. There’s a good chance somebody could really find the fish in practice, but conditions will change and they’ll struggle in the tournament, or vice versa, somebody may struggle in practice, but a major change in conditions could turn in their favor.”

 Jordan: “Well, the Classic as a whole is a challenge. I know I’ll have to dig deep to block everything out and focus on the fishing. And since I’ve never fished a tournament on Hartwell, and it’s a pretty big lake, I’ll have to focus even more.”

 Q: Do you foresee yourself using more Quantum spinning reels or baitcasting reels in this event?

 Matt: “Probably spinning tackle just because I have the utmost confidence in its ability to get bites. I’m guessing I’ll lean heavily on a size 30 Quantum Smoke S3 spinning reel at Hartwell.”

 Jordan: “It really depends on the water color. Hartwell is generally pretty clear, which leads to a lot of spinning tackle, but with all the recent rains it could be off colored, meaning I’ll use baitcasting more – so probably a mix of both spinning and baitcasting.”

 Q: Jump ahead 30 years from now in your mind and tell us how you hope fishing fans will think of the Lee Brothers in the year 2048.

Matt: “I hope we’re both thought of as anglers who are respected and talented, and made a positive impact on fishing both on and off the water. Sure, I’d love to see us both have dominating careers in the years ahead, but there are a lot more important things in life that I want to accompany that – like being likeable and well-respected.”

 Jordan: “I hope we’re thought of as brothers that had fun, and got the younger generation excited about fishing. I know fishing kept me out of trouble when I was younger, and to get high school anglers involved in our sport is what it’s all about for me. I get the most joy from young anglers telling me that my brother and I are the reason they got into bass fishing. That’s so rewarding!”

  

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

 

 

  

Gerald Swindle and Kevin VanDam share longtime sponsors Toyota and Quantum, as well as an amazing 9 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles between the two of them, and on the eve of the first Bassmaster Elite Series tournament of 2018, they were gracious enough to share their thoughts on Lake Martin, Alabama.

 

  1.) It’s a brand new season, but what was your favorite part of the off-season this winter?

 Swindle: Being in the tree with my wife LeAnn when she arrowed a great 130” whitetail buck in Illinois that I called in for her with a ‘snort wheeze’ and video taped the whole thing too.

VanDam: Christmas with all my family, and it was especially good because my nephew Steve got married immediately after Christmas, and that caused all the family to hang out even more together.

 

 2.) Will all the rain that fell today, and is forecasted to fall throughout the weekend, make fishing better or worse on Lake Martin?

 Swindle: I don’t think it will have much of an affect one way or the other, because I think the dirt and mud will settle faster than people might think.

VanDam: I think the rainy weather will make it better, because anytime you have a low pressure system fishing tends to improve, and besides that, it’s not a cold rain, it’s a fairly warm rain, dumping water into a lake that’s about 48 to 52 degrees.

 

 3.) Name 3 lures fans can expect to see the pros use a bunch this week.

 Swindle: Shad Rap, Rapala DT6 and a Damiki Rig.

VanDam: Medium diving crankbaits, finesse jig, and a Damiki Rig

 4.) When Mike Terry won the B.A.S.S. event here in the early winter of 1994, he won by 14 pounds. Can anybody separate himself that far from the second place guy in this tournament?

 Swindle: I don’t see that happening. In fact, I think you’re gonna see the tightest weights since the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh.

VanDam: It’s possible – if a local like Matt Herren, Russ Lane, Greg Vinson, or Kelley Jaye gets on the motherload. Hey, it happened before here 24 years ago – so why couldn’t it happen again?

  

5.) How much weight will you need to average each day to make the Top 12 cut here on the final day?

 Swindle: 12.5 for the Top 12, and 13 pounds a day could win.

VanDam: 12 pounds a day should do great this week.

  

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 The only thing thicker than the humidity of the 61-degree air temps surrounding Lake Martin in the darkness of the final morning of practice for the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge, was the anxiousness of the world’s best bass pros to figure out how to catch a sizeable largemouth.

 “Counting the time I spent here practicing last month before the lake went ‘off limits’ – this will be my 9th day on Lake Martin in the past couple months – and I still haven’t caught a 3-pounder,” says reigning Bassmaster Classic Champion Jordan Lee.

 Despite not yet catching a fat largemouth, and fast approaching monsoon-like, lightening-laced rainstorms on his cell phone’s weather radar, the always easy-going and good-natured Lee was weather-ready in his Carhartt raingear, and taking it all in stride in the darkness of 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

 “The cool thing is, it’s kind of anybody’s ball game here on Martin, because it’s so tough to smash ‘em consistently for three or four days here,” says Lee. “You may see a guy jump out to the lead with a 16 or 17 pound limit on Day 1, but doing that consistently here is super tough. In fact, if you can average 13-pounds a day, you’ll be real tough.”

 Consistent with his ‘it’s anybody’s ballgame’ theory, is the fact Lee says nobody in the 2018 Elite Series has a huge home lake advantage on this gorgeous 44,000 surface acre reservoir, even though several Alabama pros, including himself, are on the roster.

 Lee graduated from Auburn, just a short 45 minute drive from Lake Martin, following his hugely successful time in the Carhartt Bassmaster College fishing ranks, but says he spent very little time fishing here during his time on the Tiger’s campus, choosing to instead hone his skills on fisheries where weightier limits awaited.

 “I don’t mean this as a negative, but Martin is probably one of the lowest winning weight lakes in our state. There just aren’t a ton of largemouth here, and the spotted bass are typically 2-pounders,” explains Lee, whose new Ranger’s front deck was covered in 10 Quantum rod and reel combos.

 Five of those reels were spinning, rigged with dropshots primarily for the plentiful spotted bass population, and five were Smoke baitcasters featuring a variety of orange/red crawfish colored crankbaits -- and a skirted pitching jig – just in case he encounters a piece of habitat where that 3-pounder or better that’s eluded him through nine days practice might be hiding. 

  

  Alan McGuckin

 

Tags:

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

During his highly successful Carhartt Bassmaster College Series days at Auburn, Matt Lee once dressed as country music star Brad Paisley for Halloween.

 “I had a plaid button-up shirt and carried a guitar around all night – mostly because chicks were into Brad Paisley at the time, and I cold grow a goatee in four days,” laughed Matt, as he reflected back to his campus days.

 Speed ahead half-a-dozen years, and Lee is now a full-time Bassmaster Elite Series pro, fresh off five very impressive Top 12 finishes during the 2017 season. And this Halloween, he’s costuming as an old lady, and choosing a topwater frog as his single favorite lure for late October.

 “People think of a frog as being a lure for aquatic vegetation, and it’s definitely great for that, but it’s also an awesome bait to throw around isolated laydowns and docks -- especially if you’ve got shade present,” says Matt.

 

Don’t Be Afraid of Braid – “For whatever reason, a lot of beginning anglers are afraid to throw braided line. But with a frog, braid is a ‘must-have’ for better hooksets, and to land the fish that blow up on it,” says Matt. He favors 50 or 65 pound Seaguar Smackdown, and spools it to a Quantum Speed Freak reel with a blazing 8.1:1 gear ratio that’s crucial to picking up line really fast following topwater explosions.

 A jig around docks for Jordan -- Matt’s younger brother, and Bassmaster Classic Champion, Jordan jumps on a jig for his pick of one lure he can count on in mid-autumn.

 “I’m looking to pitch at any isolated piece of wood on the shoreline, but docks are also super key in late October, and it’s hard to beat a 3/8 ounce Strike King finesse jig for laydowns or docks,” says Jordan.

 Haunted Docks?

 Okay, maybe not haunted, but old, somewhat dilapidated docks are famous for attracting more bass than new, well-maintained docks.

 “Yep, the best docks are kinda crusty, and covered in spider webs, with an old aluminum boat parked in the middle of ‘em,” grins the younger Lee brother. “Ideally I like a dock with about 15-feet of water on the front posts, and 5-feet of water near the back of it.”

 Jordan trims his jig with a Strike King Menace and spools up with 15-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon, but cautions anglers to not go too big with their rod selection.

 “I like a 7-footer versus a 7’ 6” or a 7’ 10” when I’m fishing docks, because a lot of times you’re in tight spaces, plus you make more accurate pitches with a slightly shorter rod,” he explains.  Jordan’s current dock fishing pitchin’ stick of choice is the new Quantum Smoke S3 model #SMC707XF.

 Given their phenomenal success during their short tenure as full-time pros, perhaps avid angler and country music star Brad Paisley might consider dressing as one of the Lee Brothers this Halloween - and if he’s wise - he’ll tie on a frog and a finesse jig.

 

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 When you serve up 72 free pizzas, and former Carhartt Bassmaster College Series studs Matt and Jordan Lee are in the house, even an approaching rain-soaked autumn cold front can’t dampen 78 high school and college fishing teams from showing-up for the first ever Quantum Next Generation Open on Grand Lake, Oklahoma.

In fact, the young anglers traveled from as far away as nine states to launch and weigh-in at the same top-notch facility in Grove, Oklahoma that hosted the 2013 and 2016 Bassmaster Classics.

More than a dozen Zebco employees, parent company of Quantum, traveled from headquarters in Tulsa to volunteer and assure the anglers a quality experience at the No Entry Fee tournament.

And while ample smiles were evident of a great time by all in attendance, the high school team of Landon Edwards and Dalton Greene of Springdale and Siloam Springs, Arkansas caught the biggest bag of the event with 16.44 impressive pounds on a Rick Clunn squarebill from structure between docks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The top finishing college team was Cameron Simmons and Dexter Flick of Oklahoma State with 12.97 pounds. Simmons an aviation major from Owasso, OK, and Flick an accounting major from Olathe, Colorado anchored their win with a 5-pound beast that bit a ½ ounce Pepper Custom Lures spinnerbait featuring willowleaf blades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 Each winning team walked away with an impressive amount of product valued at $5,000 in a No Entry Fee tournament thanks to the very generous contributions of Carhartt, Costa, Garmin, Lowrance, Quantum, Stormr, Strike King, and Yamaha.

 Beyond just prizes to the top finishing teams, Quantum gave away a total of $16,000 in product through random drawings, and the City of Grove, and the Grove Rotary Club helped immensely to make sure the tournament ran smoothly.

 “In five years of being around high school and college tournaments, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a rich product pay-out in a No Entry Fee event. Not to mention, it was really well attended and run in a first class way,” says Matt Lee. 

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

Kevin VanDam’s Three Favorite Lures for Fall

October 2, 2017 12:00:00 AM EDT

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 he 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 kicks 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.

 “Fall is all about the bait, and in a lot of reservoirs that’s going to involve bass keying on shad in major creek arms of the reservoir,” says VanDam. “That pattern is talked about constantly, and it’s true, but not every quality bass follows bait to the back of a creek -- there’s still plenty of good fish eating bait on flat, shallow, points along the main lake too.”

 No surprise then, all three lures pro bass fishing’s greatest angler chose as his favorites for fall are shad imitators.

 His starting line-up includes a squarebill crankbait, a topwater walking bait, and a jerkbait. And just as importantly as what lures he specified … is knowing where and when to use them … and what equipment he matches them to.

 Squarebill crankbait – He chooses his namesake KVD 1.5 from Strike King and says, “It’s just such an efficient bait because the bass are moving shallow, and they’ll bite it in just about any color of water,” says VanDam.

 “The dream scenario for a squarebill at this time of year is a rocky creek channel swing in the back of a major tributary, with shad active near the surface of the water,” he adds.

 While some pros speed up to faster gear ratio reels in autumn, VanDam remains faithful to the same 5.3:1 ratio from Quantum that he cranked up Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year titles with during his illustrious career.

 “With the larger spool and line capacity on the new Smoke HD reel, I’m still picking up plenty of line to maintain a good speed,” explains VanDam, who pairs it with a forgiving 7’ 0” TourKVD cranking rod.

 Topwater Walking Lure – If ever there was a prime time for topwater lures – it’s now, and VanDam says lures like Strike King’s Sexy Dawg have magnetic qualities.

“A topwater like the 4.5” Sexy Dawg has incredible drawing power. You can attract bass from far away to come bite it in clear to stained water, as long as there’s not too much wave action on the surface,” says VanDam.

 VanDam uses a higher speed 7.3:1 reel for this lure, and prefers 50-pound braided line. “Braid is so much easier to get the lure to walk, plus you get better hook-ups when they bite,” he explains.

 Jerkbait – Kevin VanDam and jerkbaits go together like October and falling leaves, and he says that few lures search-out bass on shallow, flat, main lake, secondary points like this one.

 “Again, not every bass in the lake swims to the back of a creek in search of shad at this time of year,” emphasizes the 4-time Bassmaster Classic Champion. “There are plenty of quality fish to be caught on the shallower flat points on the main lake too. And by keeping your boat in about 10-feet of water, and casting up there to four or five feet of water on those types of points, can be an awesome way to catch ‘em at this time of the year,” emphasizes the 4-time Bassmaster Classic Champion.

 VanDam emphasizes the need for a quality reel capable of making long smooth casts for jerkbaits, and currently relies on Quantum’s new Smoke S3 in a 6.1:1 spooled with 12-pound fluorocarbon.

 From first downs to falling leaves, autumn is indeed an awesome time of the year to catch bass chomping on baitfish, especially with three lures chosen by Kevin VanDam arrowed squarely into your bass fishing knowledge base.

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

VanDam’s 18 pounds of disappointment

September 15, 2017 12:00:00 AM EDT

Be honest, if a genie in a bottle offered you an 18-pound limit of bass every time you went fishing, you’d jump on it like a 5-pound smallmouth on a soft shell crawdad.

 So would I.

 But for the greatest bass angler of all time, bringing an 18-pound limit of smallmouth to the scales on Day 1 of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Lake Mille Lacs felt like Christmas without presents. Or, maybe a good old fashioned kick in the fishin’ shorts.

 “Yea, absolutely I’d call it disappointing,” said Kevin VanDam in the predawn light just before heading out in search of a bigger sack of bronze bombers on Day 2.

 “I actually caught more bass than I expected to yesterday, but so many of my bites yesterday were 2 or 2 ½ pound fish. I just never got a real big bite,” he explained.

 Ironically, even though 29 of the 50 competitors caught at least a 20-pound limit on Day 1, nearly all of them still insist that Mille Lacs is fishing stingy.

 “You look at that leaderboard, and you’re thinking we just went out there and blasted ‘em yesterday – but trust me, that ain’t the deal. It’s a grind. Even a lot of the guys who caught ‘em really good yesterday only got seven or eight bites all day long,” explains the career long Quantum pro.

 “In my opinion, the population structure here is different than most northern smallmouth fisheries we compete on,” says VanDam. “Instead of tons of three and four pounders like you might see at a place like St. Clair or the St. Lawrence River, it seems like there are fewer fish here, but there’s some really old fish here that grow to be giants – there’s just not tons of them.”

 But today is a brand new day. And boy is it different. Instead of calm winds and bright sunny skies, clouds are heavy grey and the winds are blowing steady out of the North-Northeast at 10 mph.

 “You watch the leaderboard today,” warns VanDam. “This weather change is gonna shake things up big time. All that finesse fishing guys were doing yesterday, is going to be tougher to do today.”

 Faster moving lures like jerkbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits will be much bigger players. And if VanDam had a genie in a bottle – that’s exactly what he’d wish for.

 So keep an eye on the leaderboard. And don’t be shocked if the 7-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year makes a jump toward the top like a 5-pound smallie. 

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

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