Kevin VanDam is a threat to win any tournament, and he won one of the toughest ever: the 2005 Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa. Since this week's Delaware River tournament is supposed to be at least that tough (and in the same state!), we asked him about how he feels about how today's tournament is setting up.
"I didn't come and prefish so I don't really know anything about it," he said, "but it's been super tough. One of the toughest I've ever been a part of as far as practice goes.
"Normally you hear whining [among the pros] when it's tough, but I've never seen it like this.
"A big part of the challenge is the 7-foot tide swing have here," he noted. "You can fish through an area that may be decent, but you may be there at the wrong time and wrong tide and not catch anything. That makes it hard to practice for.
"The toughest tournament I ever fished was the Pittsburgh Classic, and I had a lot more bites in practice there than I've had here this week," the Strike King pro said. "I think the guys who have some experience here, like Ike, will have a marked advantage compared to most places we go.
"I'll be practicing every day. I'm still learning."
This isn't the first time Bassmaster events have been held on tidal fisheries, so he put that tide swing in context. "The Louisiana Delta is on a 12-hour swing, and it's maybe 8 inches or a foot depending on the wind direction – very minimal, just enough to create a little current," he said.
"On the James River and the Potomac, it's a 2- to 3-foot swing every 6 hours. That's what's super crazy about [the Delaware] – it does 7 feet in 6 hours.
"That makes it interesting. I've never seen anything like it. It's definitely the biggest tidal swing I've ever fished. It's new to a lot of [pros], understanding what the fish do when the water moves that much."