RIDGELAND, Miss. – There’s a family feud scheduled for the final day at the 2017 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett. In fact, it’s not the first. This is the third time Kevin VanDam and nephew Jonathon VanDam have made Elite Series Top 12 cuts since JVD joined the circuit in 2011.
The previous times came during the 2011 season. On the Harris Chain of Lakes, KVD would finish fifth and JVD would finish fourth. Later that season the younger VanDam would find a leg up, finishing sixth while his uncle finished 10th on the Arkansas River.
“Our whole family is pretty competitive,” Jonathon VanDam said. “We want to beat each other in everything we do.”
The competition on Ross Barnett is tight. They’re separated by only 7 ounces. KVD in third with 46-pounds, 6-ounces and JVD with 45-15 in fourth. This margin is smaller than the previous two three-day totals in their Top 12 showings in 2011.
“Neither one of us have made a Top 12 this year,” KVD said. “We’ve just had average finishes, and points-wise you have to have good tournaments.”
KVD is currently in fourth in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the year race, while JVD is in 67th.
The two share information as they often travel on the road together.
"Jonathon came down and pre-fished here,” Kevin said. “I did not come and look or anything, so every day during practice we talked about some general things, about where you can run and we talked about water quality and breaking down the lake real quick, and what each was doing.
“I think it really helped both of us a lot here. We are piecing it together. We are doing similar things. It’s great when it all comes together. It’s not that easy. You can’t guarantee, ‘I'm catching them doing this, and you’re gonna be able to find the same kind water.’ But we just had a couple of those tournaments where we’re close to doing something special.
“The difference between a really good tournament and a bad tournament is such a small margin. So this is awesome. Hopefully, we can finish one and two tomorrow.”
KVD did not mention who he hoped would prevail, if it came down to that.