2011 Elite Series - Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship
Alabama River - Montgomery, AL, Jul 29 - 31, 2011

Lessons learned at All-Star Week

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.

Watching a Bassmaster event from the media’s perspective was a fascinating experience for me during the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week on the Alabama River.

As you know, I was eliminated during the preliminary Ramada All-Star Semi-Final on Lake Jordan. And Ott DeFoe went on to win the one-on-one tournament on the Alabam River, beating out Edwin Evers by 5 ounces.

I stuck around for the final event to work with The Bassmasters TV and Bassmaster.com internet crews, providing on-the-water analysis during the competition. It was an interesting experience and gave me an up-close look at how each of the eight finalists fished.

It also gave me insight into how much effort, resources and planning goes into filming The Bassmasters and gathering material for the website.

It was a privilege to work with so many dedicated people; it gave me new appreciation for what they do.

On the other hand, it was a frustrating being out there with my fellow competitors and not having a fishing rod in my hands.

I came away from the event impressed. It was a strong field but I’m here to tell you that Ott DeFoe is the real deal. It was no fluke that he won 2011 Rookie of the Year, and I expect him to be a major player in the years to come.

Honestly, I picked Edwin to win because of his history on the river and his shallow water expertise. But I also picked Ott as the dark horse because he’s been on a roll all year.

I was impressed with how cool and calm he was as a finalist in a major event. He fished diligently and confidently. Fish came up busting around him, and he never got rattled.

Other guys that I watched throughout the week weren’t as composed. They were tense and nervous, yet Ott displayed the same mannerisms every time I saw him.

Edwin was calm, too. That shows how important mental toughness is when fishing big events.

I also found it amazing how differently we all fish. I got to analyze each angler’s approach and styles, and it was apparent each angler fished his strengths. That’s what you have to do when you get to this level: fish the lures and techniques in which you have the most confidence. And, I’m telling you, each man was a little different than another.

Many of them fished stuff I would have never taken the time to fish but they caught fish there. I learned from that.

Some of them fished the same area I would have targeted but they did something entirely different and still caught fish. That is a testament to why it’s so important to approach any situation with your strengths.

I’m not sure if there will be another event like this but I sure hope so. B.A.S.S. did a good job with the format, and while there are some things that could be tweaked, it was a fun event.

It lacks the pressure of the Bassmaster Classic or the Toyota Tundra Angler of Year race, but it’s a fun, bonus event. There’s still $100,000 on the line with a unique, competitive format, and I found that refreshing.

Of course, it was frustrating being on the outside looking in; I want another shot at it.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.

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