An All-Star homecoming

Having the Toyota All Star Week on a lake so close to my home was really special.

I’ve been to a lot of Classics and special events where other guys were local favorites and I’ve seen the pressure it put on them. It’s hard to imagine until you’ve experienced it.

Well, now I’ve experienced it and I can say it’s worth it! Honestly, it didn’t affect my performance since I always put more pressure on myself to win than family and friends put on me. I was in position to win going into the last day and that’s all one can ask of himself.

I was amazed with how many people turned out at Muskegon, including a lot of anglers I fished against 20-plus years ago as a young man competing in Michigan B.A.S.S. Federation tournaments. I’ve never had more fan support and I truly appreciate that.

Admittedly, the fishing should have been better; these are great lakes! But the Chamber of Commerce weather we experienced – a high pressure system that sat over West Michigan throughout the event – had an impact on the fish.

In other words, it was great for spectators but too nice for the fishing. You never know what kind of weather you’re going to get in Michigan this time of year and we got an “Indian Summer” during those three days of competition.

I never imagined it would be that hard to get bit up there. The lakes didn’t show their potential during competition. The guys who visited the lakes for a pre-practice prior to the event said the fishing was so much better than it was that week.

Another factor that affected fishing was a lot of alewives (and salmon) moved into Muskegon and White from Lake Michigan. The lakes were full of alewives, a forage fish that filled the water column top to bottom. That had the bass roaming and not relating to anything significant, which made them difficult to locate and catch.

My hat’s off to Hank Cherry, who had a banner day on White Lake. When the wind picked up it helped position the fish along a wind-blown point he fished. He was there at the right time when the bass were chasing bait and wound up catching the winning fish on a swimbait.

It was a pattern I was looking for but only found scattered bass. I got a decent limit but couldn’t get the quality bites that I got in practice.

It illustrates how fast the fishing changed. I gave it my all, finished second, but Hank did a great job. That’s fishing and it shows how tough Elite anglers are when they can go into a lake they’re unfamiliar with and figure it out.

The city of Muskegon and B.A.S.S. staff did a great job in every aspect. The nightly functions were fabulous and the activities on the water made for a good time for anglers and spectators. It takes a lot of work to put on an event like that.

I’m proud of my home state and the fishing we have here. To be able to show the bass world what we have is awesome and I hope B.A.S.S. comes back.

I welcome the pressure!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

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

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