2010 Bassmaster Classic Lay Lake - Birmingham, AL, Feb 19 - 21, 2010

Classic preparation

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.

My professional performance is important to me. I want to do my best every time I launch my boat. It's not always about where I finish in a tournament, although that does matter. It's knowing that I did the best I possibly could and that I didn't leave anything out on the water. That mindset starts with preparation.

And preparation starts with the basics. It's impossible to fish in weather like this unless you stay dry and warm. I learned a lesson at the Hartwell Classic. My hands nearly froze. After that event I purchased six pair of gloves. If that sounds crazy, consider that I fished all day Friday in a wet snow without ever having my hands get cold.

I had to change gloves three times but I was able to handle my tackle, tie knots and work all my equipment without difficulty. Perhaps more importantly I was able to concentrate on the task at hand — finding bass that'll bite in this weather. (That's a continuing process as you know from my last blog.)

Of course, I also have insulated rain gear, good boots and all the other stuff you need to keep you dry and warm. But the gloves are the thing. My hands get cold. I can't fish with cold hands. So, rather than complain about it I did something — spent the time and effort to find gloves that work for me. There are no shortcuts in this business.

Clothing isn't just a matter of comfort. On Friday I was on the water from daylight to dark. I never got cold, not once. My teeth didn't chatter, my fingers weren't numb, and my toes didn't hurt. That allowed me to maximize my practice time.

It's the same with my tackle. I put everything in its place. There are no exceptions. When I reach for something I want it to be there, exactly where it belongs. That's the only way I can fish.

These things are especially important to me in a tournament like this one. The fishing will be tough. Everything matters, especially time management. The more casts I make in a day the better chance I have of catching bass. Every time I have to look for something I'm wasting time, and wasted time means fewer casts.

A practical example of what I'm talking about is happening today. As I said yesterday I need to make some tackle changes based on what I learned in practice. I can do this efficiently because I know exactly where everything is in my boat. In a matter of minutes I'll be able to remove what I don't need and replace it with what I do need.

There's very little room for error out there. Everything I do is designed to make me a more efficient angler. Over the past 20 years it's made a big difference in my fishing.

Remember, it's all about the attitude.

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