2012 Elite Series - All-Star Semi-final Lake Shelbyville - Decatur, IL, Sep 20 - 21, 2012

Ready to rock at All-Star Week

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

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

After a couple of weeks of doing promotional work, it’s time to turn my attention to the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week that kicks off next week.

I was fortunate to make the Top 8 qualifiers based on last season’s Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. The remaining four spots were determined by fan voting. Congrats to Gerald Swindle, Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens and Mike Iaconelli who were added to the field by fans this week.

We’ll be fishing Lake Shelbyville in southern Illinois in the semi-finals Thursday and Friday. The top four anglers who survive the cut advance to the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship on nearby Decatur Lake in downtown Decatur, Ill. Saturday and Sunday.

Everyone fishes the first two days and our individual total weights will determine who moves on. During the Championship, however, the top four anglers will face off in a seeding format with No. 1 fishing against No. 4 and No. 2 against No. 3. On the last day, the last two survivors battle it out.

This is a fun tournament that’s built around a lot of community activities and a college bass tournament that features several Illinois schools. My family, including my parents, will be there all week which makes it even more enjoyable for me.

One of the things that we as pros like about All-Star Week is it’s good, hard-nosed competition among a dozen of the best Elite anglers on tour - yet without all of the pressures of fishing for points, making the Classic or any of the other stressful issues that we face during the regular season.

Don’t get me wrong, every man wants to win and will be fishing hard. That’s the nature of all pro anglers – we thrive on competition.

It’s a great opportunity for the fans, too. They get access to us every day of the event. There are a lot of special activities on-going as the event coincides with the Decatur Lakefest, a festival featuring live music and lots of fun things for families to enjoy. (Get more event information here.)

I really don’t know what to expect fishing-wise other than I believe it’s going to be tough. Southern Illinois, like much of the Midwest, has been hit hard by drought and hot weather.

I suspect that nearly all of us are seeing Shelbyville for the first time. I was there when I was 12 when my brother qualified for a big tournament and I tagged along, but I don’t remember anything about it.

What’s going to make the competition interesting is the diversity of fishing styles and techniques employed by the guys who made the show. I think you’ll see bass caught in a lot of different ways.

Another element that we like is that Shelbyville is big enough, but certainly manageable, so that we can spread out. If a guy gets on a unique pattern, he can exploit it.

So, I’m going down there with an open mind and prepared for just about anything.

Last year, when the event was held in Alabama on Lake Jordan and the Alabama River, I was eliminated in competition early. That killed me because I was really looking forward to getting on that river.

So, while this may seem to be somewhat of a low pressure tournament, I have some additional incentives.

I’m looking for redemption!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.

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