Fun at sport shows

Seigo Saito
2011 Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam

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 spent last weekend working sport shows in Novi, Mich. (near Detroit), and in Cincinnati.

Both shows were packed. People were buying a lot of new products, and the exhibitors were selling a lot of boats and tackle. You could feel the renewed excitement from everyone at both shows.

Heck, I even stopped by a Nitro dealer at the Novi show and helped him sell a Z8! It took me back to the days when I sold boats and tackle at my brother's store in Kalamazoo.

It was good to get out and mix with the anglers who were very enthusiastic and asked good questions at both shows.

The Novi show is only a few hours from my home and offers a unique perspective for seminar goers. Instead of the typical Hawg Trough tank, where most seminars are given, the Novi show has a large, above-ground pool filled with water, some trees and boat docks and a Z9 boat floating in there, from which I demonstrated techniques during my seminars. It gave the public a different perspective and worked well.

I also gave a special program to some 600 diehard bass anglers in an auditorium. The special seminar was cosponsored by show promoters and the NBAA, a weeknight tournament circuit that is strong in Michigan. I've fished against several of those guys during my early days, so it was fun seeing them again. The seminar was free, but anglers had to preregister at the NBAA's show booth or online. The response was incredible and shows you the value of social media.

Speaking of social media, I now have a Facebook page and welcome anyone to sign up as my friend.

The Cincinnati show was equally rewarding. There were several collegiate bass anglers and young people at my seminars, and they all asked great questions.

Something I found interesting at both shows was the interest anglers have in waters away from their homes. Many of the questions I fielded from NBAA fishermen were about Kentucky Lake, where their Classic will be held. Conversely, a lot of the Cincinnati crowd asked about fishing Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair in Michigan.

I also got a lot of questions about pond and strip pit fishing, which is prominent in that region. One of the things I like to do before a seminar is to get a feel for the kind of waters in a region so I can tailor my seminars accordingly.

And finally, I got a kick out of the 10- to 17-year olds who approached me this weekend to say they were going to get on the Bassmaster tour someday and beat me. I love that kind of mentality!

After all, it's all about the attitude!

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