Chris Van Vliet, a four-time Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open angler, recently placed fourth in the Northern Open at Lake Erie. More recently, Van Vliet, TV host of The Buzz on Cleveland's CBS 19, was voted Cosmopolitan’s 2011 Bachelor of the Year by fans in an online poll. We talked with Van Vliet about his accomplishments on and off the water.
What was it like finishing fourth at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open?
The tournament was an incredible experience. You go into a tournament like that hoping you’re going to get a good draw because the entire tournament is based on being paired up with guys who are around fish all the time. I got some really great pairings. Lake Erie, what a fishery that is! I just couldn’t believe how big the smallmouth were.
How did you catch most of your fish in the Open?
In the Lake Erie tournament I brought five or six rods, but I drop shotted the entire tournament using one bait the entire time. I used a Goby-style bait called a Slammer and the pros were asking me every day if I had extra baits.
Are you planning on fishing any more tournaments with B.A.S.S.?
Absolutely. I’ve been a fan of bass fishing since I was four. I grew up watching The Bassmasters on TV and you never think you’ll be able to be fishing in a tournament with those guys.
As a fan of bass fishing, to be able to be there watching everything unfold before your eyes is an incredible experience.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Pickering, Ontario. I now live in Cleveland.
How long have you been fishing?
I caught my first fish when I was 4 years old. I caught a rock bass and that’s when I realized there was no turning back.
How do you make time to fish?
It’s hard with the hours I work now to get out and fish as much as I would like to. It’s a balancing act. I’ll usually take off vacation days or head home for the weekend just to go fishing. Being away definitely makes me appreciate it more when I’m out on the water. I’ve learned to make the most of my time.
Where is your favorite place to fish?
Probably back home on the Bay of Quinte because the number of largemouth bass is incredible. It might be one of the best fisheries in terms of numbers. When I’m fishing smallmouth, I like Lake Simcoe.
What is your best fishing memory?
Catching my first fish as a 4-year-old started it all. But, at 14 years old I caught my first 5-pound smallmouth bass. When you’re 14 and you catch a fish like that, it just seems like the biggest fish in the world. I ended up taking dozens of photos because I thought it was the largest fish I had ever seen.
What has been the best thing about being Cosmopolitan’s 2011 Bachelor of the Year?
The whole experience has been very exciting from the beginning. The coolest thing about being Bachelor of the Year is winning the $10,000 prize. From the very beginning, I was planning on donating the winnings to a charity. So I donated all of the money to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland. It is incredible to see how that organization is benefitting from this in such a huge way. They do incredible work here in Cleveland.
What kind of advice would you give to someone fishing in their first tournament?
Be observant and know that you are going to be learning something every single moment you’re on the boat. Know that it is not so much a competition as it is a learning experience. I think you need to stick with your strengths and what makes you confident. If you’re not catching fish, look around at how your pro is fishing. Be observant of everything that is going on around you because an opportunity like that is very rare.