VanDam snares first place at Kentucky Lake - Major League Fishing

VanDam snares first place at Kentucky Lake

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Pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., caught 10 bass over two days that weighed 37 pounds, 10 ounces to lead the 10 pros who advanced to Friday’s semifinal round of the $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Angler: Kevin VanDam.
May 15, 2003 • Gary Mortenson • Archives

Green grabs hold of lead in Co-angler Division

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – It was only a matter of time before Kevin VanDam made his presence felt on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. And today was that day. Using a two-day catch of 37 pounds, 10 ounces, VanDam shot atop the leaderboard for the first time all season, earning his first top-10 berth of the year in splendid fashion. Finally, after five months of head scratching, the legendary angler had seemingly found his comfort zone.

“I’m glad to be having a good tournament,” said VanDam, arguably the best angler in the world over the past three seasons. “Because they’ve been far and few for me this year.”

After recording a string of unremarkable performances on the tour during the 2003 season (including an 84th-place finish at Lake Okeechobee, a 32nd-place finish at the Atchafalaya Basin and a 17th-place result at Lake Murray), VanDam skipped the FLW Tour event at Beaver Lake entirely. The result: Heading into the Kentucky Lake tournament, the 2001 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year was in 78th place overall in the standings and in danger of missing the championship for the first time in years.

However, after today’s performance, VanDam – in the blink of an eye – put himself right back in the thick of FLW competition.

“I really haven’t had a very good year at all, and I knew that I needed to do well in the last two tournaments of the season to make it to the (Jacobs Cup),” said VanDam, referring to the lucrative year-end FLW championship, slated for the James River in Richmond, Va., this September. “Five-hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money (for a first-place finish at the Jacobs Cup) and I’d like to have a shot at it.”

Although VanDam could breath a sigh of relief now that his season is back on track, he quickly turned his attention to winning the tournament at hand.

“I’ve been really fortunate this tournament,” he said. “Everything is changing so fast out there. I’ve been trying to fish pretty fast until I get a clue as to where the fish are. Then I try to slow it down some. I’ve been doing some flipping and pitching, but I’ve also used some horizontal presentations when I’ve had to.

“You just have to experiment every day,” VanDam continued. “It’s been tough out there. Today, I had my first fish by 11 a.m. And it took me a while to figure things out. But once I did, I got a limit in a hurry.”

So what will it take to win the title?

“I think you’re going to need about 18 pounds each day,” said VanDam, a resident of Kalamazoo, Mich. “But if I get 18 pounds, I’m not stopping there. I learned a long time ago that you can’t ever lay off.”

Monsoor takes second, earns best-ever FLW finish in process

A veteran of the EverStart Northern Division, Tom Monsoor wasn’t sure how he’d fare after graduating to the FLW Tour in 2003. Well, if the Kentucky Lake tournament is any indication, he need not have worried. Using a monstrous two-day catch of 36 pounds, 8 ounces, Monsoor qualified for the first top-10 FLW finish of his career.

“This is as good as it gets,” he said. “I’ve been fishing for a while now, and this has always been my dream. Now the pressure is off. We’ve been stressed for two days, and whatever happens after this doesn’t matter. I am just going to go fishing for the fun of it.”

Monsoor said that he has been using a combination of homemade jigs and baby brush hogs on a Carolina rig to land the majority of his catch.

“I’ve been swimming jigs in about 6 to 8 feet of clear water near coontail (weeds),” he said. “And I’ve also been targeting rocks in muddy water with a Carolina rig. Basically, I’m throwing the Carolina rig in about 20 feet of water toward the banks. The fish have been hitting the bait in about 12 feet.”

Monsoor said that he really doesn’t know what the next two days of competition will bring.

“I went to about three different spots today and I caught every fish I could,” said Monsoor, a resident of La Crosse, Wis. “But I fished my areas pretty hard, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.”

Family affair for Yamamoto

Gary Yamamoto of Mineola, Texas, finished the day in third place with a catch of 32 pounds, 5 ounces. However, an even bigger accomplishment for the Japanese native was the fact that his son, Derek, also managed to qualify for the finals in the Co-angler Division.

“I think it’s great,” said the elder Yamamoto, inventor of the famous Senko lure. “He’s been strong all year. He’s come a long way. I’m very proud of him.”

Best of the rest

Terry Baksay of Monroe, Conn., finished the day in fourth place with a catch of 31 pounds, 15 ounces, while Todd Ary of Birmingham, Ala., took the fifth qualifying spot with a catch of 31 pounds, 13 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 pro qualifiers were Steve Kennedy (sixth) of Auburn, Ala., with a catch of 30 pounds, 15 ounces; Davy Hite (seventh) of Prosperity, S.C., with a catch of 30 pounds, 11 ounces; Terry Seagraves (eighth) of Kissimmee, Fla., with a catch of 30 pounds; Mike Surman (ninth) of Boca Raton, Fla., with 29 pounds, 10 ounces; and Jeffrey Thomas (10th) of Broadway, N.C., with a catch of 28 pounds, 9 ounces

Robert Beatty of Clermont, Fla., won the day’s Snickers’ Big Bass Award and a check for $750 after netting a 7-pound, 2-ounce largemouth. Beatty, who also won $1,000 for catching the biggest fish of the week, ultimately finished the tournament in 71st place.

Green works co-angler magic … again

It took three years, but Randall Green of Braselton, Ga., finally made his first-ever FLW top-10 finish. Not only that, with a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 6 ounces, Green leapfrogged one spot to grab first place overall heading into tomorrow’s co-angler finals. And Green couldn’t have been happier.

“We just had a great day,” said Green. “I’ve been mighty close to making the top 10 before. I’ve had a couple of 11th-place finishes in the past. And I’ve been waiting for this for three years. So it feels great.”

Green said that although this is his first time fishing Kentucky Lake, he had a sense early on that this could be his tournament to lose.

“I had a really good practice,” he said. “I was catching about 17 pounds a day. So I felt pretty confident coming in.”

Green said that due to the changing styles of his partners, he has had to adapt almost daily with respect to technique and lure selection.

“I’ve had to mix it up a little bit every day,” he said. “When you’re fishing from the back of the boat, you’re really forced to adjust day to day.”

And what will it take to take home the coveted title.

“I’m shooting for 12 pounds,” he said. “It’s going to be tough. But it’d be great to win.”

Best of the rest

Quint Bourgeois of Knoxville, Tenn., finished the day in second place with a two-day catch of 25 pounds, 5 ounces, while Johnny Taylor of Kodak, Tenn., took third place with a total catch of 24 pounds, 15 ounces.

Rodney Chmolack of Phenix City, Ala., grabbed the fourth qualifying position with a catch of 24 pounds, 4 ounces.

Derek Yamamoto, son of legendary angler Gary Yamamoto, took fifth place with a catch of 22 pounds, 1 ounce.

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler finalists were Ryan Chandler (sixth) of Hobart, Ind., with a catch of 20 pounds, 14 ounces; Barry Ward (seventh) of Louisville, Ky., with a catch of 20 pounds, 9 ounces; Charles Pearson (eighth) of Auburn, Ala., with a catch of 20 pounds, 4 ounces; Ralph Wilson (ninth) of Warner Robins, Ga., with a catch of 20 pounds, 1 ounce; and Richard (Joe) Parks (10th) of Cape Girardeau, Mo., with a catch of 20 pounds.

Pam Wood of Bono, Ark., won the day’s big-bass award in the Co-angler Division after netting a 6-pound, 6-ounce largemouth. Wood, who won $500 for her efforts, finished the tournament in 77th place.

Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. at Kentucky Dam Marina, located at 466 Marina Drive in Gilbertsville, Ky.

Click here for a preview of day three.

Related links:

Results of day-two pairings
Day-three pairings
Quick Bites: FLW Kentucky Lake, Day 2
Press release