KVD Talks Erie

Announcing that Kevin VanDam currently leads the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race delivers the shock value equivalent of saying Tiger is the PGA's best golfer.BASS now swings north to the part of America where smallmouth rule and VanDam cut his bassin' teeth. This puts KVD in position to win his fourth Angler of the Year trophy in the same manner that a bogey on 18 would suffice for Eldrick (Tiger Woods' real first name) to win again.But as the Bassmaster Elite event on Lake Erie fast approaches, Kevin swears it's not that easy."I may have a little advantage in knowing the details of smallmouth behavior, but in the Elite Series, most everybody knows how to fish for smallmouth. It would be crazy to say I'm certain to win or have a Top 5. All you have to do is look at last year."VanDam finished 16th in 2007, and says that was truly the best he could do, citing no major regrets in his rearview mirror.A fast-scan of Erie looks like a massive freshwater ocean, leaving beginners with a "where do I start?" mentality. Kevin says it's about minor, subtle changes on the lake's floor. "You look for minor irregularities on your sonar, a place where the bottom dips less than a foot might hold a massive school, but you also have to find the baitfish, and they tend to shift locations constantly."So what do you throw when you find them? "I'd be sure to pack lots of tube baits, drop shot rigs, and 6- to 10-pound line," he said.And as far as navigating the freshwater ocean, Kevin warns to come prepared. "I've seen 8-foot tall waves more than once, and you'd better be looking far in front of you so you can steer around them because you sure don't want to be caught by surprise and drive straight into one. You also need to have a 4- or 5-blade prop for lots of low-end torque, which helps you avoid 'blow outs' in rough water. Lastly, pack Dramamine to treat sea-sickness," VanDam concluded with a laugh.