The challenge

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

I'm packed and headed towards Alabama to fish Lake Jordan. It's the site of the first event in the Toyota Trucks Championship Week. Twelve of us will battle head-to-head for the 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. With two days of practice and only two days of competition it'll be a different experience, that's for sure.

A lot of guys have asked me if Jordan's small size will affect the tournament. I suppose the straight answer to that question is that everything affects a tournament in one way or another. But, as a practical matter, its small size is a non-issue in my mind.

True, there's not a lot of water there but there are only 12 of us fishing it. If you think about that it's not much different than 100 guys on Guntersville in an Elite event, or 50 anglers on Lay Lake in next year's Classic. It ends up being something like the same amount of water, in my mind anyway.

One thing's for sure, though, there won't be any secret lures, unknown patterns or hidden spots by the time practice is over. Two days isn't much but it's enough to let everybody find the bass and figure out what's happening. These guys are good, they get the job done.

In fairness, however, there aren't many secrets in the tournaments we fish anymore anyway. When an Elite field launches you're looking at the best bass anglers anywhere. They find bass and figure out how to make them bite.

Limiting competition to two days is a factor, however.

There'll be little or no opportunity to come from behind. A bad day will translate into a bad tournament. Think of it this way, one day in this thing is half the event. That's like two bad days in an Elite tournament. You don't come back from that.

If you get behind it becomes more of a good fortune-bad fortune situation. There's little opportunity to fine-tune your pattern or presentation, and limited time to improve. What you do early could easily be what you do.

Execution will be at a premium. On Oneida, for instance, I had some fish come off and had some early execution issues. They weren't my fault, but at least I had a shot at correcting them and making up some ground. There'll be no such opportunity on Jordan.

A 5-pound bass here will make all the difference in the world. Execute poorly — let her get away at the boat — and you'll be in the also-ran section of the press coverage.

Basically, it comes down to developing a pattern in two days and catching fish quick in competition. That's not the way we usually fish. But we're all seasoned professionals. Each man will do his best to meet the challenge. Like everything else in life, it's a matter of maintaining a positive attitude.

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