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VanDam on Water Clarity and Lethargic Bass

Kevin VanDamEditor's Note: Thirty-four-year-old Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, currently ranked second on the tour and number one on www.bassfan.com, has had seven career wins and 43 top-ten finishes. VanDam has won the Angler-of-the-Year title three times. When he has prize money on the line in the fall, he relies on a spinner bait.

In clear-water conditions, I fish the spinner bait fast to keep the bass from getting a good look at the bait. I try to get a reaction strike more than a feeding strike by retrieving the bait quickly to cause the lure to appear like a darting baitfish. But in stained water, I use a brighter-colored bait and slow my retrieve down to enable the fish to see the bait more easily and longer.

As the water cools down in the fall and the bass's metabolism slows down, I like a slow retrieve to keep the bass from having to expend so much energy to catch it. Then when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees, you have to slow your bait down more because the bass will feed more in a winter pattern than in a fall pattern.

Kevin VanDam* Use light, natural-colored baits and blades in clear water or on sunny days.

* Fish with painted blades and either white or chartreuse skirts in stained water or on overcast days.

* Match your retrieve to the weather conditions. On warm days during the spring and summer, swim the spinner bait quickly back to the boat. But in the fall and winter as the water temperature begins to cool, slow down your retrieve and crawl the bait just above the cover.