KVD on Fishing Diversity: "It's Benefitted Me Many, Many Times Over the Years" - Major League Fishing

KVD on Fishing Diversity: “It’s Benefitted Me Many, Many Times Over the Years”

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March 9, 2018 • Joel Shangle • Cup Events

ALPENA, MI – If you took a survey of all 26 Summit Cup anglers not named “VanDam”, and asked them exactly why Kevin VanDam is the winningest tournament bass angler in history, most of them would offer the following answers: “Mental toughness” or “confidence”.

While VanDam’s fierceness in competition and belief in his ability to catch a bass are certainly among his most valuable competitive qualities, KVD’s response to the question might surprise you.

“Diversity,” VanDam says during on off-day Q&A session at tournament headquarters in Alpena. “Growing up here in Michigan, I had the opportunity to fish so many different kinds of lakes and species, and I fished for everything. It really helped me gain a broader understanding of how fish behave in general. That’s benefitted me many, many times (in tournaments) over the years.”

VanDam’s home waters around his home in Kalamazoo – a city of 75,000 in southern Michigan located an hour east of Lake Michigan – gave him access to everything from smallmouth to steelhead to pike, and VanDam targeted them all. He caught the bass-fishing bug at the age of seven, but he nonetheless took advantage of opportunities ranging from steelhead in the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries to Chinook salmon on lower Lake Michigan.

“Salmon and trout were especially helpful because most of my fishing for them was in streams and rivers,” VanDam says. “We have a lot of great smallmouth rivers, but salmon and trout fishing really helped me understand how fish hold and relate to objects in the current. Salmon and trout do the same thing as bass. The way current moves and flows around objects, whether it’s just a rise or a dip in the bottom, a log or a rock, it’ll create slack spots in the current where they can hold with very minimum effort. They can sit there and wait for the current to bring something to them.”

Diversity will be at play in Sudden Death
VanDam fully expects northern Michigan’s diversity to be in play in the week’s Sudden Death rounds in Alpena. Unlike the week’s smallmouth-oriented fishing on 8,800-acre Hubbard Lake, the remaining 18 anglers competing for a spot in the Championship Round will almost certainly be faced with a wildly different set of fishing conditions in Sudden Death, and likely a different species to focus on.

“I’m comfortable just about any lake we go to because I have an idea what to look for, but, man, these northern Michigan lakes have probably the most diverse forage base of anywhere you could possibly go,” VanDam asserts. “These are all glacially formed lakes, so some are shallow and weedy, some are deep and rocky, some are clear, some are stained. Just based on how the glaciers deposited sediment, a lake could have a clay base to it, or it could be rocky or sandy. That changes the clarity, the habitat and the lake’s fertility. It makes it really hard from a (fishing)-preparation standpoint.”