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Fishing Spots for Beginners

Editor's Note: Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of the most-dominant anglers on the bass-fishing circuit, likes to fish with Strike King lures and particularly Strike King's Wild Thing, a creature bait that he used to win the 2001 BASS Masters Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chosen Angler of the Year on the B.A.S.S. circuit in 1991, 1996 and 1999, VanDam also enjoys spending time with his family and hunting deer. This week, he'll share a few of his most unusual bass-fishing tactics, and he'll answer some of the industry's most-asked questions.

Question: Can you pick out one lake in each region of the country that you think is suitable for a beginning angler?

VanDam: For a new fisherman, you want to go to a place that homes crappie or bluegill. Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee is full of those types of fish, and a number of wonderful guides work there, particularly at Blue Bank Resort in Tiptonville, Tennessee (www.bluebankresort.com). This is a great place to fish.

When you talk to the guides and plan your trip, you can tell that they sincerely want you to have a good time. And if you let them know in advance that you're bringing a beginning fisherman with you and really want to get him on a lot of fish, they'll do their best to meet your needs and expectations. That's the good thing about a reputable resort and guide service like Blue Bank, because they want you to have a good trip so you'll come back.

Other great places for beginners are Lake Okeehobee and Kentucky Lake (www.1fghp.com/Hondo/index.shtmll, www.kenoakresort.com, www.chucksguideservice.com, www.balonsproguideservice.com). You'll find a bunch of resorts and guides around that area. Tremendous crappie fishing is very seasonal, so be sure to check that before you go. Lake Eufaula in Alabama is another great place for beginners to learn to fish.

Question: Are there some good places to fish in the North?

VanDam: The problem with the Northeast is that the fishing is so seasonal that making a living as a guide is more difficult there. I know of several good lakes to fish, but not a lot of people who guide. One of the best things to do if you're in a region like that is to go to the local, independently-owned tackle store. Talk to the people who work there, and tell them that you have somebody who you want to get started in fishing and that you want to catch bluegills and bream. Sometimes you may find someone to take you fishing in a situation like that. But I don't personally know of any guides or anything like that in those areas.

Question: What about out West?

VanDam: Out West you'll find a lot of trout fishing. To try to take somebody for the first time on a public trout stream or a trout lake is pretty tough. But California has many lakes that are stocked with trout and that will have bluegills and other fish like that. They do have guides out there too. Probably a good contact out there would be Anglers Marine (www.anglersmarine.com) in Anaheim, California.