20 Questions with Kevin VanDam

Seigo Saito
Kevin VanDam poses with a batch of special cookies baked by his wife Sherry,

In the world of bass fishing, Kevin VanDam needs no introduction. He is generally considered the greatest professional bass angler of all-time and has the record to prove it. He has four Bassmaster Classic victories, 20 career tournament wins, over $5 million in prize money and seven Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year awards. Impressive numbers to be sure, but our 20 Questions must be addressed.

1. Where are you from, originally?

I was born and raised right here around Kalamazoo, Mich. I think it's really nice up here.

2. How did you get started in bass fishing?

My dad started me fishing, but it was at my grandparents' lake that I started bass fishing. That's where I caught my first bass.

3. Who were some of your earliest fishing heroes?

The first fishing show I ever watched was Virgil Ward's. That was before The Bassmasters was on TV. That is what really got me excited about bass fishing. He had Bass Buster Lures with the Beetle Spin and the Tarantula. That was good stuff. In later years, there were the guys I looked up to that everyone else probably did — Hank Parker, Bill Dance, Rick Clunn, Denny Brauer and those guys.

4. When did you realize you had made it in the bass fishing industry?

I don't think you can ever make it in bass fishing. You constantly have to improve your game. In the Elite Series, this is the best there is, and you can't slack off just because you think you've "made it." If you believe that, it's a good time to retire.

5. What's the biggest bass you've ever caught?

Twelve pounds. I caught one at Lake Murray in South Carolina, and I got one on Sam Rayburn in Texas. Both of those were in practice before events. The biggest one I've caught in competition was an 11-13 I got during an Elite 50 event on Lake Lewisville (Texas).