The littlest VanDam

Kevin VanDam with his great nephew, Matthew, Jonathon VanDam's son. Photo taken shortly after KVD placed first at Grand Lake. 

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No surprises on Sunday?

It'll be no surprise if the current standings hold and Kevin VanDam wins what will be his 25th B.A.S.S. victory. But after all the build up of the full moon, warming water and spawning bass, it's a bit of a letdown that no one has made a charge at KVD today. 

"I'm looking forward to fishing (Sunday)," Seth Feider said yesterday. "This lake is getting so right."

Yes, it's "getting right" but not right enough for one of those 25- to 30-pound bags that have been hinted at this week. VanDam may have just sealed the deal with a 3 1/4-pounder at 2:26. It gives him 18-4 on the day and almost a 7-pound lead over second place Tommy Biffle, according to BASSTrakk.

KVD's 24 (now 25) wins

Starting with 1991's Georgia Top 100 on Lake Lanier, Kevin VanDam has won 25 B.A.S.S. events, all the way up to the Elite Series event on St. Lawrence River last year. You can view all his victories here. Perhaps even more impressive- out of his 306 B.A.S.S. events, he's finished in the Top 10 112 times. You can see the rest of his stats on his profile page

Last chance for Tharp

After running the same milk run in Honey Creek, the Honey Badger only caught males in an area that was full of females the last three days.  

With only an hour remaining, Tharp just made a run almost to the dam. Will he be able to pull off some last minute heroics? 

Tharp thinks it's about to happen

Randall Tharp wasn't very upset about the hour he lost this morning while his engine lower unit was replaced. He said then, "The later it gets, the better they're biting. I'm excited about this afternoon. The winning fish are there. I've just got to get them to execute."

According to our Gettys Brannon, Tharp hasn't been executing perfectly lately, losing a 3-pounder and a 4 1/2-pounder, but the bass have definitely turned on in the area where Tharp wanted to be this afternoon.

"It's about to happen," Tharp said.

Biffle's bug and more

It’s no secret what Tommy Biffle is using this week on Grand Lake. The name of the bait takes up the most space on his wrapped truck, his wrapped boat, and today, inside his rod locker. 

Here are the details of what’s tied on his line, including his namesake Biffle Bug. 

A 7/16-ounce Gene Larew Biffle Hardhead with 4/0 hook and 4.25-inch Gene Larew Biffle Bug is a top choice. So is a 4.5-inch Gene Larew Fat Tail Tube with 4/0 hook and 3/16-ounce weight. A 3/8-ounce River2Sea Biffle Junkyard Jig is another choice.

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Feider catches "Retread Fred"

Just before 11 a.m. Seth Feider caught the big bass of the day so far, a 6-pounder he called "Retread Fred" as he lifted it in the boat. There's a story behind that name. Feider had a "horrible practice." He found five bedding bass and caught them all on Day 1 to finish in 20th place with 18-7.
Since he didn't have anything better to do, Feider decided to camp out in Wolf Creek, near the Wolf Creek Park weigh-in site.

"That first day saved me," Feider said. "It was really a weak practice. Since then I've been living and dying in the creek right here, where they let everybody else's 4- and 5-pounders go from all over the lake. I'm not smart enough to catch those, or find them anyway."

Feider is slightly exaggerating the case. The B.A.S.S. "Live Release" pontoon boats don't release each day's catch in any one spot. But this is tournament headquarters for Grand Lake, so plenty of previously caught bass are released in Wolf Creek. Credit Feider for being smart enough to make the most of a bad poker hand.

"I'm using a lot of different baits," he said. "Every day is a little different. I've just got a core area I'm not going to leave."

After that 18-7, 20th-place bag on Day 1, Feider moved up to 10th place on Day 2 with 18-11. He jumped to 5th place yesterday with 20-14. Today he's got that 6-pounder and a 3-8 with two dinks in his four-bass bag for 12-4 as the noon hour approaches.

Hawk's West Coast style

Arizona angler Roy Hawk is bringing what I like to call West Coast style to his lure lineup. It’s no secret that West Coast bass anglers are known to be very creative and open minded with customizing stock lures. Hand poured worms and using meticulous terminal tackle lure components come to mind. All of it originated with guys like Don Iovino who get credit for modern day finesse fishing.

Already the Elite Series rookie has proven that he will carry on the tradition of West Coast lure style.

While getting bait details for the Top Lures of Grand Lake photo/story gallery I wondered out loud if Hawk had customized any of his lures. 

“Sure, I do that with just about all of them.”

This week it meant adding two densities of silicone skirt material to his spinnerbait. That choice is a 3/4-ounce Pepper Custom Baits Double Willow Spinnerbait. Hawk combined standard and fine thickness silicone to create what he called a unique skirt action. It doesn’t matter whether or not any of us could see the difference in the action. What matters is Hawk’s confidence in the lure and the likely fact that it does create a different action. The proof on the score board. 

Coincidentally, Hawk used finger nail polish to create a custom colored Duo Realis Crankbait M62 5A, to finish in second place at Lake Martin. 

Based on Hawk’s good fortune thus far this season it’s going to be pretty neat to see what other customized, out-of-the-box lures he will come up with. Don Iovino will be proud.

Tharp gets new lower unit

Randall Tharp in the service yard getting a new lower unit. 

Arizona Delight?

We have Arizona angler Roy Hawk on Bassmaster LIVE today in our Rapala Five LIVE and it made me think of the numerous anglers fishing the Elites from the state of Arizona.

Hawk joined fellow Arizona anglers Dean Rojas, Brett Hite, Clifford Pirch and Josh Bertrand on the Elites this year and this week at Grand it seemed to be an Arizona delight.

Hawk is in contention to win this event and is leading Toyota Angler of the Year and Rookie of the Year at the moment, Dean Rojas finished 15th, Brett Hite placed 16th, Clifford Pirch finished 19th, and Josh Bertrand got 46th. All 5 of the current Arizona anglers got a $10,000 paycheck plus some.

Hawk did say that he was fishing Grand very similar to how he's been doing well on Lake Havasu back home. There could be something to that pattern and to what he is keying on. It's unique to hear some parallels for Hawk because Oklahoma and Arizona don't sound similar, but connecting the dots between lakes for an angler can definitely help put the pieces to the puzzle together during Elite competition.