Santa was good to me

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.

Hope your Christmas was good and you got all the cool fishin' stuff you wanted.

Anglers who fish for a living rarely get tackle at Christmas because we tend to have everything we need or buy it as we need it.

But, I got lucky this year, as a couple of gifts put a smile on my face. First, Sherry bought my sons and me custom-made ice fishing jigging rods built in my KVD colors (red and black). One is for bluegill fishing and the other for bass.

I couldn't wait to try them out, so I rigged up the bass rod with a jigging Rapala and walked onto the ice of the pond behind my house.

I caught three fish and, man, did it feel good! I haven't landed a bass since early November!

I drilled four holes into the ice around a hump that lies offshore in my pond. I dropped my Humminbird Ice 55 transducer in the water and immediately spied fish hanging around the bottom. I had a hunch they were bass.

Normally, the fish are pretty aggressive during early ice, but it took me about five minutes to get the first one to bite. I could tell he was interested by the way he kept moving up on my jigging Rapala, but he just wouldn't take it. After a while of our little cat-and-mouse game, the bass finally took a swat at and I nailed him.

That's one of the cool things about today's electronics. Back when I ice-fished with less sophisticated equipment, I wouldn't have known those fish were there and would have looked elsewhere and drilled more holes. But, since I could see the fish on the graph, I stayed with that spot.

The same is true with my boat electronics. When my Side Imaging graph showed a school of bass on a Kentucky Lake ridge last year, I knew that all I had to do was get them to bite — and I did. My electronics gave me the confidence to fish there, and I wound up winning the tournament.

I got another cool "gift" just before Christmas when my lure sponsor, Strike King, sent me the new 5XD crankbaits that will be introduced at the Bassmaster Classic in February.

The 5XDs have a body similar to the Series 5 crankbaits that run 10 or 11 feet, but the new lures run 15 feet with 12-pound fluorocarbon line.

I fished prototypes last fall and can tell you these will be hot in 2011. They are the only 15-foot-deep crankbait offered in a small body style that doesn't put a lot of torque on your reel.

Anglers will love how easy they are to fish. They dive sharply and hit that magic depth that so many smaller-bodied crankbaits can't reach.

The 5XDs will be offered in all the Strike King colors and a silent (non-rattling) version as well.

Be prepared for even more additions to the XD lineup later this year!

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