2012 Elite Series St. Johns River Showdown St. Johns River - Palatka, FL, Mar 15 - 18, 2012

St. Johns: Lookin’ at freakazoids!

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.

Let’s set the record straight – I really do enjoy sight fishing.

I feel compelled to say that because so many people think I don’t. C’mon! I grew up sight fishing in the clear waters of Michigan! 

Granted, I’ve not won a Bassmaster event exclusively with the technique, nor would I rank myself with Shaw Grigsby and other premier bed fishermen.

But I have enjoyed the week I’ve spent on the St. Johns River in then 2012 Elite Series season opener where big fish are up shallow and still in the spawning period.

When you come to Florida this time of year, sight fishing is what you have to do if you want to finish high and have a chance to win.

I didn’t get off to a great start on Day One (43rd place with 12 pounds, 12 ounces), but I’m hardly out of it. I’m around enough big fish to still make a run at this.

Most of the guys who had big bags also had a giant fish. I didn’t catch a giant, but I feel good about what I’m doing. In fact, I caught one in practice that would have pushed 12 pounds and I’ve seen some that were as big – or bigger – than that.

Floridais known for its big bass but the St. John’s has some scary freakazoids, like the one I looked at today that looked as wide as my Toyota Tundra truck!

In fact, seeing so many big fish probably hurt me today. I got caught up in trying to catch fish that wouldn’t bite. I spent an hour and half on one over 10 pounds that obviously wasn’t in the mood to bite.

I could tell that when I first saw her by the way she was acting. But I simply couldn’t resist, and that’s what happens to an angler fishing Florida during the spring. I kept trying different lures and presentations, and I wasted precious time.

Another frustrating thing about fishing down here is how the big ones come and go from an area. I started in a place where I had seen big females during the last practice day – only hours earlier – and they were simply gone the next morning. Yet, I know today (Friday), they could be back.

The fish that I weighed in Thursday weren’t locked on beds. I was just casting around areas where they were cruising, which is what I plan to do again today. I’ll go to those places holding quality fish to cast around while looking for a giant on a bed that will bite.

I just can’t allow myself get caught up in that and burn a lot of clock like I did the first day.

That will be my biggest challenge, because this place is just so mesmerizing. It’s amazing some of the things you see swimming out there in that clear water – gar, mullet, needlefish, stingrays – you name it. If it swims in fresh and saltwater, it’s here. In fact, during practice, I saw a manatee!

Of course, it’s big bass I’m after and there are plenty of those. Before the week is out, I’m gonna catch me one.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

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