Editor’s Note: Kevin VanDam is back. After winning the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, had had a mediocre year so far by some people’s standards. As one of the elite 200 on the BASS circuit, he surprises people when he doesn’t win tournaments. But on June 12, the “Ledge King” took home first-place prize and a $100,000 check after winning the 2010 Elite Series tournament at Kentucky Lake.
Question: Kevin, you always do well on Kentucky Lake, don’t you?
VanDam: I have in the past. The four times the BASS Elite circuit has held a tournament on Kentucky Lake, I’ve had two wins and a second- and a third-place finish. So, this lake has been productive for me in the past.
Question: Until the tournament on Kentucky Lake, you hadn’t won a tournament in 2010, except of course the Bassmaster Classic. What did you do to change your luck?
VanDam: I try to win every week. But Kentucky Lake sets-up well for my style of fishing. I love to fish crankbaits on ledges, and of course, I have a good history at Kentucky Lake. So, I had a good chance to do well, if I could figure out the bass’ patterns. I needed to determine the bass’ seasonal migration stage. I knew they could be concentrated in a number of places.
Question: Let’s talk about your practice day at Kentucky Lake. What did you learn?
VanDam: I saw that the bass were further along in their summer pattern than what they had been in years past. The bass were more related to the main-river ledge, instead of structure at the mouths of creeks. Also, the bass were a little deeper than they had been in the past in June.
Question: How did you figure that out?
VanDam: By experimenting and fishing different areas of the lake, I found a couple of schools of bass out on the main-river ledge. So, that’s where I concentrated my practice time. Instead of looking for bass in 12 to 15 feet of water, like most fishermen would at Kentucky Lake, I started searching for bass in 18- to 20-foot-deep water.
Question: How important was your Humminbird Side Imaging unit in locating the bass?
VanDam: The Humminbird Side Imaging sonar is very important to me. The four tournaments in which I finished in the top 10, including the Classic, the Humminbird Side Imaging depth finder was critical. At Kentucky Lake, I motored up and down those river ledges and used my side imaging and down imaging. I was able to scan 70 feet to my left, 70 feet to my right and also have a down-imaging scan. So, I was looking at 140 feet of bottom each time I went down a ledge, which gave me really-good coverage of the bottom as I moved-in my scanning ability, and also gave me greater detail of the bottom. I wasn’t looking for stumps or shell beds, like I normally would. Rather, I was looking for bass, and that’s how I found them.
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