2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro
Lake Guntersville - Birmingham, AL, Feb 21 - 23, 2014

Thinkin’ bass when it’s 15 below

Courtesy of Kevin VanDam
Kevin VanDam blowing snow this past week at his home in Michigan.

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.

We’ve just experienced the coldest and snowiest week of winter that I’ve seen since I was a teenager.

On one hand, it was fun to hang with my teenage boys who were home for three days because school was cancelled.

But when school is cancelled in Michigan, you know the weather is bad. How bad?

We got about 30 inches of snow in three days, and it was very difficult to get around. It was -15 degrees outside while I spent 3½ hours on the snow blower and plow. The wind was blowing 25 mph, which pushed the wind chill down to -45 and created massive drifts. Today, as I look at my driveway toward the county road, there’s snow piled 5 feet high.

So why do I live in Michigan? Mainly because our family loves the outdoors and enjoy the four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter that we experience here.

And, of course, I’d argue we have the best smallmouth bass fishing in the world, and that comes from having diverse lakes, cooler seasons and less fishing pressure.

Some of us fish late into the fall and are back out when the ice thaws in spring, but there’s about four months of open water when there’s very little fishing pressure on the thousands of lakes we have here. So, in that respect, our lakes get a break and I think that helps our fishing.

But, as I sit here watching the entire country go into a record-breaking deep freeze, I can’t help but think about how this weather could affect the GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

I’m in preparation mode and my new Nitro is rigged and ready at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo. – where it was below zero this past week. If this unseasonably cold weather continues, it could change bass fishing nationwide.

The cold temperatures won’t be an issue. In fact, if the south stays in the ice box, there will be a pronounced shad kill that could be a good thing for the bass population, short term. It happens every winter, but generally not until late January, and I hear it’s happening on several lakes now. The bass are leaving the bottom to feed on dying, fluttering shad, making for an incredible jerkbait, umbrella rig, swimming grub bite. They really chunk up on those shad.

But if this cold snap continues and is accompanied by heavy rain and snow, it could have an adverse effect on Guntersville.

High, muddy water is about the only thing that could really hurt fishing during the Classic. However, those conditions could kill the vegetation and create a mess of floating grass that will make fishing with treble hook lures difficult.

More importantly, when the grass is gone on those key structure elements, the bass leave too and become harder to locate.

The upside to that is if you do locate the bass in an area, there will be a ton of them there.

We’re all expecting big things from this year’s Classic on Guntersville and rightly so. It’s one of the best lakes in the country. But for it to be really good we need to see some stable weather beginning at the end of this month.

There are 34 days until official practice begins and 42 until the first day of competition. It’s going to be fun.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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