Up North Again, Kevin VanDam Hopes to Claim Third Summit Cup Title - Major League Fishing

Up North Again, Kevin VanDam Hopes to Claim Third Summit Cup Title

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February 27, 2017 • Lynn Burkhead • Cup Events

In most people’s minds, Kevin VanDam is the GOAT of bass fishing.

GOAT as in the greatest of all time, the best to ever play the game.

And the numbers don’t lie, especially when it comes to detailing the status of KVD’s legendary career as the 2017 Major League Fishing Summit Cup arrives in Grand Rapids, Minn.

For proof of the above statement, consider that VanDam is a two time MLF Summit Cup champion, a four-time Bassmaster Classic champ, a seven-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year winner, a one-time winner of the FLW Tour AOY award, a 23-time winner on the BASS tournament trails and winner of more than $6 million in career earnings.

Yeah, KVD is pretty good.

Especially when he’s up north fishing the largemouth and smallmouth rich waters like those he is so familiar with near his Michigan home.

And with similar waters in and around northern Minnesota, many have already penciled in VanDam as the favorite to win his third MLF Summit Cup championship.

With his two previous Summit Cup trophies being claimed in Alpena, Mich. and LaCrosse, Wis., is it as simple as being up north?

Not really, says VanDam.

“I think the one thing that you can say about all of these guys is that they are really good everywhere they go,” KVD said.

“But when you put them on their home territory (waters), around fish that have their (region’s) idiosyncrasies, (then it’s reasonable to expect those anglers to do well).”

VanDam pointed towards Bobby Lane, the 2016 MLF Challenge Cup champ, and Shaw Grigsby, for their successes on water bodies located near their Florida homes.

“When we go there and target Florida strain largemouths, they are really going to be on it,” said VanDam. “And when we come up north, this is where I grew up fishing.

“I don’t know that I have a huge advantage (because of that), but I do understand what I’m getting into and the fish that I’m dealing with. It makes a difference, there’s no question about that, just understanding their habits, the forage bases and things like that. In my mind, I feel real good about it.”

He ought to, since Grand Rapids, Minn. seems to bear some similarities to the fisheries in and around Alpena, Mich., a place where KVD won his first MLF championship during the 2014 Summit Cup.

VanDam claimed that title while putting on a fishing performance for the ages in the final day’s Championship Round where he smashed his way to 82-pounds, 7-ounces. The record stood as the single-day largest catch until Elimination Round 1 of the 2017 Summit Cup, when Aaron Martens was able to bring in 88 lbs.

On that particular day in northern Michigan, KVD’s performance was almost epic, a virtuoso performance in the bass fishing world.

Will VanDam be able to do it again here in Minnesota this week?

“It looks fantastic to me here at this lake,” said VanDam as he continued to prep tackle in his boat and let his gaze sweep out across the lake.

That being said, even KVD doesn’t want to get ahead of himself just simply because the MLF crew is up in the North Country this week.

“The thing about lakes like this in Minnesota – and Michigan can be the same way – is that they can be extremely diverse within (a short distance),” said VanDam.

“This lake, as compared to one maybe five miles away could be deep, clear and rocky with smallmouths while the other one might be shallow with largemouths, rice, mats (vegetation) and lily pads.”

While VanDam obviously has knowledge about northern fisheries, he is careful to point out that he still has to go out and correctly read the fish and assess the fishery on this given day of competition.

“You don’t want to get a preconceived notion about a fishery,” said VanDam. “You’ve got to take into account the conditions that you have on the day and try to put all of those things together.”

But with that in mind, KVD smiled and acknowledged that he has a good feeling about the fishing this week.

“This is right up in my wheelhouse, there’s no question,” he said.

Brimming with such confidence will only take VanDam as far as the edge of the water, however, and he acknowledged as much, noting that he will still have to go out and perform on the water.

To win, he’ll have to use his vast storehouse of mental fishing knowledge and balance that with solid decisions on the water as the day unfolds.

“It’s a constant process of breaking down everything you’re seeing from the water clarity to seeing what type of vegetation is there and other such things,” said VanDam. “And it doesn’t start with the first period – that ride through is everything.

“You’ll have to make decisions pretty quick and my history is that I’ve been pretty good at that,” he smiled.

Indeed he has. Good enough to produce a legendary Hall of Fame career that may never again be duplicated by another angler.

That grasp on the sport’s top rung shows no signs of slowing down, let alone stopping, as this week’s MLF competition continues in northern Minnesota.

Where Kevin VanDam, the fishing king of the North Country and beyond, hopes to be a Summit Cup champion once again.