I'm doing my best to spend some time on the water during COVID lockdown, but my days are plenty busy. Photo courtesy Kevin VanDam

With our current reality of lockdowns, social distancing and quarantines, a lot of us in the sport have been stuck at home now for several weeks. Since this is normally our busiest time of year and we usually run at a frenzied pace in March and April, it’s been a bit surreal to be at home for so long in the spring.

With no tournaments to fish – and some states’ lockdowns so restrictive it’s difficult to even fish locally – fans have been asking what exactly I’ve been doing with all my “free time.”

Well, I can tell you this: There really hasn’t been much free time. I’m as busy as ever, even during full lockdown mode. Here’s just a brief look at what my days have looked like the last couple of weeks.

Getting Started…

If possible, I try to start the day early with something physical, some sort of yard work like landscaping, raking, cutting grass or clearing trails. Some mornings, my sons and I will hike through the property shed hunting. With morel mushroom season coming up, we’ve been scouting for those as well.

After that I’ll spend a couple of hours cleaning out, reorganizing and inventorying tackle. This time I’ve done a deep cleanout of tackle, really trying to weed out stuff I don’t use as frequently. So far, I’ve worked through the garage and the shop. Now I’m working on a couple of closets that are full of soft plastics.

In addition, Sherry and I are in the process of sorting through thousands of photos taken over the course of my career. As of right now, we only have 26,609 left to go through!

A New Way of Doing Business

By mid-morning, I usually have some videoconferencing calls to attend. Like for many people these days, Zoom conference calls have become a way of life and I will say: it’s an extremely efficient way to do business.

Through Zoom I have been able to meet with the engineers and marketing departments of the companies I work for to help design new products and begin filming virtual rollouts for certain products, all right here from my home.

Speaking of rollouts, Lew’s is getting close to launching my new signature series line of rods. I have been working with them on making a few last-minute tweaks before production.

Plano is also in the process of readying new products to launch soon. They’re adding a couple more boxes to their EDGE line up that will take the EDGE Series innovation to the next level.

From there, I usually spend a few hours on the phone with sponsors, writers and other professional anglers. Like so many other businesses affected by this pandemic, we’re sort of in a day-by-day, wait-and-see pattern and that takes a lot of daily communication with my fellow MLF pros on what might happen next.

I’ve also caught up with some great industry folks on the phone that I haven’t talked with in a while – Stacey King, Tommy Martin and James Overstreet come immediately to mind – great to hear from them again.

Taking a deep dive into my tackle has been one of the benefits of lockdown. My Plano EDGE boxes are ready to go when we start MLF competition again! Photo courtesy Kevin VanDam

Back to Fishing Again

Two weeks ago, my phone blew up with the need for boating and fishing rights advocacy when Michigan tried to restrict the use of motor-powered boats – including electric trolling motors – on our lakes. It didn’t take long for outdoor enthusiasts and MUCC (Michigan United Conservation Clubs) to join forces and get this restriction rescinded.

But the good news is, we can at least fish again!

On some evenings, I line up Facebook Live Q&A’s to stay in touch with fishing fans. I enjoy answering the questions and I learn a lot by answering them.

As for fishing itself, now that we’re allowed back on the water with motors, I’ve been fishing again. Even though we don’t know exactly when we’ll have another MLF event, one thing is for sure, I want to stay sharp and be ready when we get the green light.

I’ve been using the Humminbird 360 Mega Imaging a lot, learning what the subtlest of bottom composition changes look like and how critical that is to fish position.

As it continues to warm up, we will be fishing more. But we do it as safely as possible. I only fish with my two sons and we pack our own lunches, snacks, drinks etc., so we only have to make one stop for gas.

Indeed, these are strange times. But despite shutdowns, lockdowns and restrictions, I’m learning to adapt to a new reality and stay plenty busy in the process.