Jonathon VanDamEditor’s Note: The second weekend in March, 2011, some amazing Strike King bass-fishing stories took place on Florida’s Harris chain of lakes with the Bassmaster Elite Circuit and also on the WBFL Circuit at Pickwick Lake.

When the 12-cut was made last week at the BASS Elite tournament on the Harris chain of lakes in Florida, two VanDams appeared in the final 12 cut – Kevin VanDam and his nephew Jonathon VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan – who both fished on the final day. Strike King’s Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, took first place and $101,000, Kevin VanDam placed fourth and won $15,000, Jonathon VanDam took fifth and made $14,000, and James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, took ninth place and won $12,000.

The Strike King BASS Elite pros took home $142,000 in tournament winnings this past weekend. One of the hottest and best bass-fishing pros in recent times is 42-year-old Kevin VanDam. But right behind him in this Elite tournament on the Harris chain was his nephew, 22-year-old Jonathon VanDam. Many have asked, “Is there a dynasty of VanDams coming-up through Strike King and the BASS tournament circuits?” To find out more about this young man – Jonathon VanDam who just fished his first Elite Series tournament - we called him right after his fifth-place finish.

Part 1: Strike King’s Jonathon VanDam Fishes Well in His First Elite Tournament

Jonathon VanDamQuestion: Jonathon, what was fishing your first Bassmaster Elite Series tournament like?

VanDam: It was awesome. I was definitely excited about it, for sure.

Question: What lure were you using?

VanDam: I was using the Strike King Game Hawg and flipping it to isolated reeds. I used the flipping tactic during the entire tournament. My best bass weighed 6 pounds.

Question: What was the first day of this Elite tournament like?

VanDam: I really didn’t have any bass found, but I went into an area where I’d gotten a couple of bites during the practice days. I didn’t think I had much going-on at all. But the two bites I had in practice seemed to be pretty-good-sized bass. I started working that region, and the second bass I caught was a 5 pounder. Jonathon VanDamSo at the end of the first day of the tournament, I was in the top 50, and I was very excited. On the second day, Harris Lakes had a cold front come-through, and fishing was really tough. I only had 12 pounds for the second day. I was fishing the Game Hawg in the Bama bug color. I was kind of disappointed. I thought I might have dropped-out of the top 50.

Question: Were you seeing any of the bass you were catching?

VanDam: No, I wasn’t. I was trying to find isolated patches of reeds and flip to the reeds. When I came-in to the weigh-in, I learned I’d made the 50-cut, and I was really surprised. I hadn’t realized how good the place was where I was fishing. Strike King Game HawgI was very excited to make the 50-cut and be able to fish with the top-50 bass fishermen in this tournament. I was in 18th place.

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