What happens when you open up the most dominant force in the world of professional bass fishing to a 30-minute live question-and-answer session with everyone in the world?
You get hundreds of questions in a rapid-fire sequence! In the first B.A.S.S. Twitter chat with Kevin VanDam, the revered angler stayed on for an hour and a half to answer as many as possible.
From questions about his favorite color, favorite fishery and favorite lure to specific advice about fishing in certain conditions, VanDam answered just like he casts — quickly, accurately and tirelessly.
Below is a transcript of the chat, lightly edited for spelling and clarity. You can also view Twitter chat transcripts from other pros, including Aaron Martens, Boyd Duckett, Jonathon VanDam, Todd Faircloth, Brent Chapman, Randy Howell, Ish Monroe, Brandon Palaniuk, Jeremy Starks and Alton Jones.
I'm looking forward to seeing what questions the fans have for me! Can't wait to get started!
What’s your favorite type of lure for this time of year ?
Mine would have to be a @StrikeKingLures RedEye Shad.
What is your favorite color?
I'm assuming you're talking about lures ... and it's Sexy Shad.
Nope, not lures, just straight up color to wear or look at or whatever!
All-time favorite lure?
What advice would you give to an angler trying to make it fishing full time?
You really have to work hard to promote yourself, and working with local outdoor writers and media is a great way to start to build your name.
Do you prefer dogs or cats?
I have a dog and I don't have a cat. So...
If you could only fish one drop shot bait next year..... What do you choose?
That's easy, Strike King Dream Shot. The lure I designed just for drop shotting. The same JVD used to win Green Bay.
Before things get busy for the please RT this for my husband, a fan of yours in Zimbabwe.
I've not gotten a chance to fish in Africa. I'd sure love to get a chance to fish there sometime!
Then you've got to come! Have a look at what's possible to catch :-) pic.twitter.com/uLASpaMJ
When I'm spooling up my baitcaster the line is always higher on one side how do I fix that?
I make sure to hold the line with my finger, so that it's going on dead center. That should eliminate that problem.
when choosing rods a lot of the ones I like are tip heavy how can I counter that to balance the rod?
You can add weight to the butt of your rod. I've seen people tape things on the end.
Thanks for the answers. When modifying all cranks lipped and lipless what and how do you do it to make them better?
There's a lot of modifications, the most important is changing the hooks!
If you find the potential winning area how many times do you revisit it during prefish?
None! I don't want to get seen in an area like that. I just watch the conditions & take my chances on tournament day.
What do you believe is your biggest contributor to your success ?
Growing up in Michigan, where there is a great diversity of waters to fish, helped me become versatile.
I think here in Southern Ontario we have similar diversity as well (LM & SM). U Need to check Lake Simcoe out!
If you could live anywhere in the country to tap the most water to best practice, where would that be?
There's several good regions: east Texas, northern Alabama. I love Michigan; I grew up here and it has great diversity.
If you find a rock pile with hundreds of bass on it how do you single out the big ones?
That's what you dream of finding! Sometime it's about experimenting with different lures. Bigger lures are better.
What brand of boat did you run before your Nitro days?
My first bass boat was a 17-foot ProCraft with a Mercury 115.
What’s your most successful largemouth bass baits during the cold winter season?
It's one of my favorite times to fish, bass are bunched up. My best cold winter bait is tube or grub on a blade bait.
Lost an eye to a 3/16 sinker, any suggestions for how to make up for no depth perception? Difficult to judge structure, banks, etc
That's a tough one. One of my best friends growing up had that happen.
I'm adamant that everybody should wear shatterproof sunglasses when fishing.
Just wondering how to make up for no depth perception. My husband wants to stay with you @GrandLake. I get the tent!
Kevin, what are your personal bests for largemouth, smallmouth, and spots (tournament or non)
Largemouth: 11-13 at Lake Lewisville; Smallmouth: 7-9 at Lake Wheeler during practice; Spot: 5-12 on Logan Martin
Your biggest bass weighed? Favorite place to fish in Oklahoma?
Grand Lake is hands-down my favorite in OK. I've caught a few in the 6-pound class in Grand Lake. So I'm really looking forward to the Classic!
Good luck :)
KVD, going fishin saturday here in kalamazoo, gonna throw xd6 and silver buddy, good move?
Right now the fish around here are biting blade baits, so the silver buddy is a good choice. I also use a red eye shade lipless crankbait yo-yoed slowly.
What's your advice for young anglers that are pursuing professional bass fishing as a career?
From a fishing standpoint, fish with as many great anglers as you can. Equally as important: get a good education and a marketing degree.
Thanks man! Good luck at the Bassmaster Classic!
Growing up here in Otsego what were some of the hot spots you liked??
Kalamazoo River that runs right through Otsego for smallmouth, and Pine Lake, Gull Lake and Gun Lake.
Thanks. Good luck at this years classic. Otsego is watching!
Will the 10XD be your go too bait when the situation arises? When would you use it? What setup would you recommend?
It's the deepest diving crankbait available today. It's designed for big bass, I'll use it on Falcon Lake. And you'll need heavier tackle.
Whats your favorite type of lure for this time of year ?
Mine would have to be a @StrikeKingLures RedEye Shad.
What is your favorite season?
Man, I love them all. I really do enjoy late fall fishing because there's almost no pressure on the water.
I have a hard time staying on fish when big lakes are on drawWhat can I do to continue catching them when they move
I try to have a lot of spots. Don't spend more than 10 minutes on a spot if I haven't caught anything. Look for areas where the current from the drawdown is going to concentrate the bass.
Do you think helping out your sponsors by attending events and doing tv shows is effecting the way you prepare for tournaments?
I've been able to find a good balance that works for me. I'm fired up when I get to a tournament to go fishing!
What is your best lures through December? And what is best set up for your kvd 1.0,1.5 crankbaits?
I do a lot of cranking. Square-bills and a RedEye Shad are my favorites. As far as setup goes, I use a Tour KVD 7-0 medium action cranking rod, cranking reel and 12-pound fluorocarbon.
What are your 5 favorite Oneida lake lures?
You need a lot on Oneida! A jerkbait, spinnerbait, a drop shot rig, a jig and a frog.
What's your advice to young anglers who are trying to make it to where you are today?
There's so many great opportunities with high school fishing clubs for anglers to gain experience. A good education is critical, especially a marketing degree.
You can only pick on lure for Okeechobee in early January, what is it?
I would pick a 3/4-oz. black-and-blue Hack Attack @StrikeKingLures jig.
During the wintertime bass are slow, what is the go to bait to get some action? In texas we go from 50 to 70 in temp
In Texas, my favorite wintertime baits are a lipless crankbait and a jerkbait.
How would you prepare for a tournament on an unknown body of water KVD?
First, I look the type of water... lake, river, reservoir, etc. I try to find a general seasonal pattern. Then I'll watch the weather patterns leading up to when I'll be there.
If you could only have two baits what would they be?
A @StrikeKingLures Sexy Shad 1.5 crankbait and a green pumpkin jig.
It's been my lifelong dream to bass fish, what advice could you give me?
I grew up reading/watching everything. Bassmaster Magazine was my foundation. Fish with many people; join a club!
Favorite lure for cold weather and clear lakes?
That would definitely be a suspending jerkbait!
Have you begun to prepare for the classic? What's your take on Grand lake?
I'm not going down to practice. I'm going to wait until the official time. I have been preparing mentally and getting some equipment ready that I might be using. And I'm really excited. Grand is one of the best lakes I think we could be going to at that time of year. It's a fantastic fishery.
What is your favorite lake on the Tennessee river?
It would be a toss-up between Guntersville and Kentucky lakes. That's tough though; I like them all.
What's your favorite fishing style, and what's your favorite soft plastic?
I'm a power fisherman by nature and I use a lot of different plastics but Strike King Rage Craw is my pick.
What's a good game plan for fishing Lake Lanier in the post-spawn early summer transition?
I like to fish shallow with topwaters. Looking for those big females cruising the banks.
Can I have your old boat??
I'm sorry, but I'm not ready to get rid of it just yet!
I'll rig ya up a pretty new one...
What are your thoughts on the Alabama Rig?
I've had a lot of fun with it. The fish in my pond & the lakes up here once the water cools down can't handle it.
What's the best advice for a small water guy hitting big water who is a first time bass boat owner?
Be very, very cautious, and pay close attention to the weather.
If you had to fish off the bank what would use?
I grew up bank fishing, I threw a lot of weedless jigs & frogs.
On southern reservoirs, best fishing is around bridges & riprap, and there I'd throw crankbaits.
As a college angler how do you feel about college fishing? Any advice for a college angler that wants to be a pro?
I think it's fantastic! The growth that's there creates great opportunities that weren't there when I started fishing.
How would you fish a lake like Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia in the spring?
Smith Mountain is fairly clear, so swimbaits & jerkbaits would be my go-tos during prespawn (cont) then sight fishing during spawn & postspawn.
what's the best way to fish the Potomac river?
When I'm on the Potomac, I try to fish areas that have an outgoing moving tide. Stay away from the flat tide.
Which event are you most psyched about for the 2013 season? As a marshal I hope to be paired up with you at the Lawrence River!
Lake St. Clair is the one I'm looking the most forward to.
Do you prefer fishing for smallmouth or largemouth?
Smallmouth, that's easy!
Do you have any tips for a beginning jig fisherman?
When you're learning a new technique, if you can go to a place where you can get bites on that lure it's helpful.
Hey KVD, favourite creature baits of 2012?
I fish a @StrikeKingLures Game Hawg and a Rodent a lot.
What lure will be the most crucial for you in 2013
Our schedule is so diverse, it's really hard to tell. I'm going to have to be open-minded & use my whole tacklebox.
What is your main goal for next season? Anything different than usual?
I have the same goals every year to be in contention to win the Classic, Angler of the Year and one Elite Series.
Are you looking forward to the Sabine River tourney and how do u plan to attack that river
It's one of the few places I don't know anything about. I like the challenge of going to new water.
What is your strategy for fall/early winter Lake Erie Smallmouth?
This time of year, you've got to watch the weather from a safety standpoint. Fish are biting grubs and blade baits.
Do you notice any global warming changes across the lakes you've fished? Any strategy changes for you?
It seems like spring came earlier last year across the country. I don't know if that's global warmingor not, but I definitely watch the water long-term leading up to tournaments.
What did you think about the All-Star event on Lake Shelbyville in Illinois 12 anglers 2 lake?
To me it was a great venue, we just hit it at a really tough time. As an angler it was frustrating, but it was supposed to be a test of the best.
What steps do you take to adjust your quantum bait casting reels specifically with the ACS breaks. Since each reel is different
I adjust the spool tension based on the weight of the lure, go a little on the loose side then the ACS break usually up to 75% or even 100 if I'm throwing into a stiff wind.
Do you remember team trouble makers from the pickwick lake tournament? LOL
Yep! I do! (laughing)
Do you have a date and lake set yet for the 2013 Vandam/Lions charity tournament?
Yes, we do! Let me look at my calendar, I've already been planning with the @DetroitLionsNFL It's June 8-9!
Thx Kevin, we had a great time and we want to be there to support your event every year.
How's Jonathon expecting to do this year?
@JonathonVanDam like all VanDams is extremely confident!
Kevin, have you ever fished Chickamauga?
Yes I have, it's been quite some time. I have friends who tell me it's a hot lake because the way the grass came back.
Top 5 baits you use?
Thanks for giving me five! I like shallow and deep crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs and spinnerbaits.
What's your favorite bait to throw on Lay Lake?
Depends on the time of the year, I love to throw jigs in the grass - shallow. And crankbaits on the ledges.
In the winter months what area of the lake do you key on first and so on?? Thks
I like the clearest water available, that's usually closest to the dam.
KVD when fishing from shore (non-boatangler) what should I key in on all times of year, and how can I judge depth/foliage/bottom?
Some of the most productive areas to fish from shore are around bridges bc they usually have close by and current. Fishing a bottom bait like a football jig is a great way to tell not only the but the bottom composition.
Hey KVD! Is it easy being brand loyal? When so many more companies making great Lures an equipment?
Anglers want to use what they think is best & it's not hard because I use what I design for @StrikeKingLures
What is your favorite color in a spinnerbait?
So I guess Sexy Shad is your all-time favorite color?
What's your best advice for fishing in the northeast when the water is between 33-40 degrees in the rivers?
Pick areas with slack water away from the current, deeper areas that have deeper water. Try a grub and a blade bait.
when fishing a small lake 15-20 boat tourney 2day tourney on 2nd day it’s tough. Would you power fish or slow down?
After spending a day on the water, I'd slow down & concentrate on areas holding fish
Do you fish in North Carolina? Around the virginia area?
I've been fortunate to fish all over the southeast some. I live in Michigan so I dont make it there a lot.
What would you use if you couldn't fish in a boat? What lures would you use?
I would use a frog a lot because you typically have a lot of overhanging trees and brush around the shoreline.
Kevin what was your inspiration as a young guy starting your fishing career and at what age did you realise your dream?
Watching The Bassmasters and seeing Larry Nixon, Denny Brauer and all the great pros inspired my tournament fishing. When I met these guys and realized how great and down to earth they were made it happen for me.
What's your favorite lure and rig for winter bass fishing on lakes?
Red Eye Shad and blade baits are what I fish up here in Michigan
What were your first thoughts when you heard the classic was going to be held on Guntersville?
I was thrilled! It will probably break all the big bass records, if we have the right weather.
Big fan from Canada; on a budget: better to get one good baitcast rod & reel or a few cheaper ones for versatility?
Buy the best that you can afford because it will last longer and run smoother, which will save you money in the long run.
Where do you ice fish in west michigan?
I fish with my hunting buddies and @Ztrain1. We go to small natural lakes based on which ones have safe ice.
What are you keying on now when you're trying to find fish?
I like to look for dropoffs on the outside of large flats, esp where there's a turn in that dropoff.
Hey Kevin, How do you organize your spinnerbaits?
I'm pretty lucky because I've got @Plano as a sponsor. I use a lot of their smaller boxes and I organize them by weight and blade combination.
If you couldn't fish for a living, what would you do?
My dream job would be to be a professional hunter! But I would do something in the fishing industry.
How do you identify off-shore patterns and what is your go to bait for fishing in 40 plus foot of water?
The No. 1 thing for me in finding offshore schools of fish is using side-imaging electronics. In fishing 40 feet or deeper, a jigging spoon and a drop shot rig and my go-to techniques.
Living up north, it gets cold. What type of gloves do you wear to help you "feel" the fish on the line?
I fish in Under Armour lined gloves when it's really cold!
Are powerpoles really worth the investment??
Absolutely for me. They help with boat control and positioning, especially in foul weather. For me, they're standard.
What's your favorite inland lake in michigan?
Lake St. Clair is a big body of water, but it's hard to beat. For a smaller body, Gull Lake. It's close to home.
I have a place on skegmog near traverse city, ever fished it?
How old were you when you won your first tournament?
I fished my first when I was 14 with my older brother & we came in 2nd. I won a tournament the next year when I was 15.
Do you have problems with your Quantum reels? Mine are constantly going in for repairs.
I almost never have any problems. I do use their top-of-the-line equipment, so they're the highest quality they make.
Thank you for answering my questions.
How does it feel being named THE best bass fisherman?
It's very flattering, but I don't think of myself that way.
Why don't you film a show with Bill Dance?
Because he's never asked me! He's one of my favorite people & a good friend & I would love to do that sometime.
How do you feel about notre dame being in the championship game haha
Let's just say as a Michigan fan, with a niece at Michigan, I'm not really excited about it.
What is your go to bait when fishing is slow?
A drop shot rig.
Kevin I have the 1.0, 1.5 & 2.5 in tennesse shad & have yet to catch anything on them. What I'm I doing wrong?
I try to throw these baits around a lot of cover, rocks, laydowns, grass. If I’m not bouncing my lure off the bottom, I like to start and stop my retrieve a lot to trigger strikes.
I signed up for the day Bass University. Do you have any thoughts or experiences on if it's worth my time.
I have been an instructor for many years, and it is one of the best learning programs out there. Money well spent.
Do you upgrade the bearings in your reels?
I use the same reels right out of the box that you buy at the store.
Pleasure meeting you at basspro in portage last winter!
Great to meet you, too!
Favorite place to eat on the road?
We're always looking for local hotspots you might see on Food Network. I'm always seeking a good Mexican restaurant.
Good thinking, Mexican is budget friendly & fast, leaves more time to get gear ready or drive to the next lake!
Just want to give a shout out to you! I'm a big fan!
Kevin what is your favorite lake to fish and why?
I love to fish Lake St. Clair because it has a huge population of smallmouth & anytime of the year is a good time
Kevin what is your favorite bait
When you 'feel' that your having a tuff time finding fish or getting bites what do you do?what is in your panic box?
For me it's not so much about what lures to use, it's about location. I like to keep moving.
when flipping or pitching do you prefer mono or flouro? And under what circumstances would you opt for one over the other?
I use fluoro & braid for flipping/pitching, braid in heavy cover&stained water, fluoro in sparser cover&clearer water.
When you hook a fish and its bleeding bad what do you do?
I use BassMedics and pour some right on the wound. Then I put some in the livewell, too.
Much respect to ya for hanging with Fans, an hour longer than expected.
I'm 13 and I'm serious about being a pro. Any advice? No clubs around here for my age though.
Starting your own club would be a good option! Find ways to fish with other good bass anglers; fastest way to learn.
Do you know any hot spots on Grand Lake?
I know lots of them, but I'm not telling!
Do you ever use live bait?
Not for bass, but I do for panfish. I'd like to try it for shiners on Lake Okeechobee.
Who was your very first sponsor?
My first sponsor was my dad!
Any advice for catching winter smallmouth on Beaver Lake in Arkansas?
Concentrate on the lower end of the lake, fishing main lake gravel points with a 3-in SK Rodent on a jighead.
Thanks for your participation! Lots of great questions. Everyone have a great holiday season with your family!
Thank you so much @Kevin_VanDam for being our guest today and for staying so much longer to take questions.
Originally published December 2012