KVD’s Day 3 comeback

Kevin VanDam started Day 3 fishing near Strawberry Island. He’d had success here all week.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Kevin VanDam started Day 3 fishing near Strawberry Island. He’d had success here all week.
He hooked up early.
Photo: Jim Sexton - He hooked up early.
And carefully battled this smallmouth close to the boat.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And carefully battled this smallmouth close to the boat.
KVD started today with a ton of confidence.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD started today with a ton of confidence.
Starting early with a keeper made it appear this would be an easy day for the Elite Pro from Michigan.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Starting early with a keeper made it appear this would be an easy day for the Elite Pro from Michigan.
The bass was small, but still a good start.
Photo: Jim Sexton - The bass was small, but still a good start.
Tournament official Chris Bowes did his job and weighed in the fish.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Tournament official Chris Bowes did his job and weighed in the fish.
KVD chatted about the catch.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD chatted about the catch.
And then gave us a better look.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And then gave us a better look.
Soon after he hooked up again.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Soon after he hooked up again.
This one was a small keeper.
Photo: Jim Sexton - This one was a small keeper.
Bowes weighed in the small smallmouth.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Bowes weighed in the small smallmouth.
And KVD released it back into the drink.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And KVD released it back into the drink.
His bracket mate Koby Kreiger saw it all and jokingly called KVD a “showoff.”
Photo: Jim Sexton - His bracket mate Koby Kreiger saw it all and jokingly called KVD a “showoff.”
Before long KVD hooked up again.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Before long KVD hooked up again.
This one had a little more size.
Photo: Jim Sexton - This one had a little more size.
His morning was off to a good start.
Photo: Jim Sexton - His morning was off to a good start.
The seven time AOY winner carefully released the bass back into the Niagara River.
Photo: Jim Sexton - The seven time AOY winner carefully released the bass back into the Niagara River.
And quickly set about fishing again.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And quickly set about fishing again.
A snorkeler, perhaps unaware of what was going on, ran right over KVD’s next spot.
Photo: Jim Sexton - A snorkeler, perhaps unaware of what was going on, ran right over KVD’s next spot.
KVD fished in an area where a crew was rebuilding Strawberry Island.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD fished in an area where a crew was rebuilding Strawberry Island.
He then drifted around the island toward the Huntley power plant, which will be retired next year.
Photo: Jim Sexton - He then drifted around the island toward the Huntley power plant, which will be retired next year.
A group of spectators were watching Bassmaster LIVE nearby on their phones. When KVD asked a question to hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, these three shouted the answer to him.
Photo: Jim Sexton - A group of spectators were watching Bassmaster LIVE nearby on their phones. When KVD asked a question to hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, these three shouted the answer to him.
KVD spent a lot of time fishing a flat between Strawberry Island and the power plant. No fish for him here.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD spent a lot of time fishing a flat between Strawberry Island and the power plant. No fish for him here.
So he blasted off for better waters.
Photo: Jim Sexton - So he blasted off for better waters.
KVD set up shop along the power plant seawall.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD set up shop along the power plant seawall.
Again, he hooked up quickly.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Again, he hooked up quickly.
And slowly worked this bass to the boat.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And slowly worked this bass to the boat.
Chris Bowes inspects the scale prior to the weigh-in.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Chris Bowes inspects the scale prior to the weigh-in.
This smallmouth will keep.
Photo: Jim Sexton - This smallmouth will keep.
KVD is happy with this one.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD is happy with this one.
And shares it with the Bassmaster LIVE audience at home.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And shares it with the Bassmaster LIVE audience at home.
Nearby, a cabin cruiser was out enjoying the morning.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Nearby, a cabin cruiser was out enjoying the morning.
KVD rode its wake while staying focused on his fishing. Why worry when there’s a life preserver nearby?
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD rode its wake while staying focused on his fishing. Why worry when there’s a life preserver nearby?
After a short move, KVD hooked up again.
Photo: Jim Sexton - After a short move, KVD hooked up again.
He fished along the bank.
Photo: Jim Sexton - He fished along the bank.
And then made a move behind a barge dock.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And then made a move behind a barge dock.
Just yards away, a group of kids came running. “There’s KVD!” yelled one.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Just yards away, a group of kids came running. “There’s KVD!” yelled one.
KVD took his time behind the barge dock.
Photo: Jim Sexton - KVD took his time behind the barge dock.
And caught three dinks there.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And caught three dinks there.
Why hurry when his competitor today, Kreiger, had no fish yet?
Photo: Jim Sexton - Why hurry when his competitor today, Kreiger, had no fish yet?
So KVD moved back to Strawberry Island. The King wore a smile during much of the morning.
Photo: Jim Sexton - So KVD moved back to Strawberry Island. The King wore a smile during much of the morning.
And then he learned that Kreiger had caught two nice fish and was gaining ground. KVD’s sense of urgency picked up, and he soon found another bass.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And then he learned that Kreiger had caught two nice fish and was gaining ground. KVD’s sense of urgency picked up, and he soon found another bass.
He patiently worked it toward the boat.
Photo: Jim Sexton - He patiently worked it toward the boat.
While drifting near some trees.
Photo: Jim Sexton - While drifting near some trees.
The smallmouth brought him to the back of the boat.
Photo: Jim Sexton - The smallmouth brought him to the back of the boat.
And over to the bank.
Photo: Jim Sexton - And over to the bank.
But KVD knew he had this one.
Photo: Jim Sexton - But KVD knew he had this one.
No boat flipping this time.
Photo: Jim Sexton - No boat flipping this time.
Why take a chance when your competitor is gaining ground?
Photo: Jim Sexton - Why take a chance when your competitor is gaining ground?
Again the smile returns, and KVD ends the morning with some confidence that he has round two in the bag. But there are storm clouds on the horizon, as Kreiger has found his fish.
Photo: Jim Sexton - Again the smile returns, and KVD ends the morning with some confidence that he has round two in the bag. But there are storm clouds on the horizon, as Kreiger has found his fish.
A little before noon, VanDam took a break to work on tackle and eat a snack, still seeming relaxed.
Photo: A little before noon, VanDam took a break to work on tackle and eat a snack, still seeming relaxed. - A little before noon, VanDam took a break to work on tackle and eat a snack, still seeming relaxed.
But he then heard that Kreiger had moved into a virtual tie. This added some pep to his step and VanDam made a longer move north, where he set about fishing a little out from the bank.
Photo: But he then heard that Kreiger had moved into a virtual tie. This added some pep to his step and VanDam made a longer move north, where he set about fishing a little out from the bank. - But he then heard that Kreiger had moved into a virtual tie. This added some pep to his step and VanDam made a longer move north, where he set about fishing a little out from the bank.
KVD remained under the watchful eye of tournament official Chris Bowes.
Photo: KVD remained under the watchful eye of tournament official Chris Bowes. - KVD remained under the watchful eye of tournament official Chris Bowes.
He fished near docks, but continued to work the deeper water.
Photo: He fished near docks, but continued to work the deeper water. - He fished near docks, but continued to work the deeper water.
The Michigan angler moved often but never very far.
Photo: The Michigan angler moved often but never very far. - The Michigan angler moved often but never very far.
These two got close enough to nearly disrupt VanDam’s fishing.
Photo: These two got close enough to nearly disrupt VanDam’s fishing. - These two got close enough to nearly disrupt VanDam’s fishing.
But KVD maintained his focus and found fish near his boat.
Photo: But KVD maintained his focus and found fish near his boat. - But KVD maintained his focus and found fish near his boat.
By now he had learned that Kreiger had moved ahead of him.
Photo: By now he had learned that Kreiger had moved ahead of him. - By now he had learned that Kreiger had moved ahead of him.
This bass came after a 60-minute dry spell.
Photo: This bass came after a 60-minute dry spell. - This bass came after a 60-minute dry spell.
And provided some welcome relief.
Photo: And provided some welcome relief. - And provided some welcome relief.
KVD was getting regular updates on Krieger’s catches.
Photo: KVD was getting regular updates on Krieger’s catches. - KVD was getting regular updates on Krieger’s catches.
VanDam and Bowes weigh the fish. Now KVD was gaining ground on Krieger.
Photo: VanDam and Bowes weigh the fish. Now KVD was gaining ground on Krieger. - VanDam and Bowes weigh the fish. Now KVD was gaining ground on Krieger.
While Dean Rojas, who was in the other bracket, zipped by.
Photo: While Dean Rojas, who was in the other bracket, zipped by. - While Dean Rojas, who was in the other bracket, zipped by.
While Dean Rojas, who was in the other bracket, zipped by.
Photo: While Dean Rojas, who was in the other bracket, zipped by. - While Dean Rojas, who was in the other bracket, zipped by.
As did a pleasure boater. Is it unkind to think this group could be called “Grumpy Old Men?”
Photo: As did a pleasure boater. Is it unkind to think this group could be called “Grumpy Old Men?” - As did a pleasure boater. Is it unkind to think this group could be called “Grumpy Old Men?”
VanDam wasn’t paying attention to anything but the fish. And he hooked up again.
Photo: VanDam wasn’t paying attention to anything but the fish. And he hooked up again. - VanDam wasn’t paying attention to anything but the fish. And he hooked up again.
And was kind enough to point out the smallmouth to Bowes and his cameraman.
Photo: And was kind enough to point out the smallmouth to Bowes and his cameraman. - And was kind enough to point out the smallmouth to Bowes and his cameraman.
He flipped it into the boat. He was making up more ground on Kreiger.
Photo: He flipped it into the boat. He was making up more ground on Kreiger. - He flipped it into the boat. He was making up more ground on Kreiger.
They weighed in this beauty.
Photo: They weighed in this beauty. - They weighed in this beauty.
And VanDam gave us a better look.
Photo: And VanDam gave us a better look. - And VanDam gave us a better look.
No time to waste. Only a half hour left in the day.
Photo: No time to waste. Only a half hour left in the day. - No time to waste. Only a half hour left in the day.
Again he let the drop shot drift near the boat, and got bit again.
Photo: Again he let the drop shot drift near the boat, and got bit again. - Again he let the drop shot drift near the boat, and got bit again.
But this one came unbuttoned.
Photo: But this one came unbuttoned. - But this one came unbuttoned.
No outward emotion from VanDam. He got right back to fishing, while a spectator got a bird’s eye view.
Photo: No outward emotion from VanDam. He got right back to fishing, while a spectator got a bird’s eye view. - No outward emotion from VanDam. He got right back to fishing, while a spectator got a bird’s eye view.
Again, he found a smallmouth right next to the boat.
Photo: Again, he found a smallmouth right next to the boat. - Again, he found a smallmouth right next to the boat.
This fish could put him into the lead.
Photo: This fish could put him into the lead. - This fish could put him into the lead.
So he treated it with extra care.
Photo: So he treated it with extra care. - So he treated it with extra care.
Bowes pulled out the scale.
Photo: Bowes pulled out the scale. - Bowes pulled out the scale.
And the two learned that this smallmouth moved VanDam into a tie with Kreiger.
Photo: And the two learned that this smallmouth moved VanDam into a tie with Kreiger. - And the two learned that this smallmouth moved VanDam into a tie with Kreiger.
VanDam was in a hurry now, and briefly showed us the fish.
Photo: VanDam was in a hurry now, and briefly showed us the fish. - VanDam was in a hurry now, and briefly showed us the fish.
With only minutes remaining, Dave Mercer arrives. Is he here to interview the winner?
Photo: With only minutes remaining, Dave Mercer arrives. Is he here to interview the winner? - With only minutes remaining, Dave Mercer arrives. Is he here to interview the winner?
Why, yes he is. Kevin VanDam wins his round two match with Koby Kreiger.  And he is ready to celebrate.
Photo: Why, yes he is. Kevin VanDam wins his round two match with Koby Kreiger. And he is ready to celebrate. - Why, yes he is. Kevin VanDam wins his round two match with Koby Kreiger. And he is ready to celebrate.
Actually VanDam and Kreiger ended the round in a tie. Both had 11 pounds even. But KVD wins the tie-breaker which goes to the angler with the heaviest one-day catch from the previous round.
Photo: Actually VanDam and Kreiger ended the round in a tie. Both had 11 pounds even. But KVD wins the tie-breaker which goes to the angler with the heaviest one-day catch from the previous round. - Actually VanDam and Kreiger ended the round in a tie. Both had 11 pounds even. But KVD wins the tie-breaker which goes to the angler with the heaviest one-day catch from the previous round.
“Man, I almost screwed this deal up,” VanDam told James Hall later. “I knew Koby was struggling, so I wasn’t going to hit my best stuff today. Then, when I saw him start catching them with a really good average weight, I knew I had to get serious.”
Photo: “Man, I almost screwed this deal up,” VanDam told James Hall later. “I knew Koby was struggling, so I wasn’t going to hit my best stuff today. Then, when I saw him start catching them with a really good average weight, I knew I had to get serious.” - “Man, I almost screwed this deal up,” VanDam told James Hall later. “I knew Koby was struggling, so I wasn’t going to hit my best stuff today. Then, when I saw him start catching them with a really good average weight, I knew I had to get serious.”
VanDam points to the area where he missed two fish.
Photo: VanDam points to the area where he missed two fish. - VanDam points to the area where he missed two fish.
Mercer and VanDam talk about the day for Bassmaster LIVE.
Photo: Mercer and VanDam talk about the day for Bassmaster LIVE. - Mercer and VanDam talk about the day for Bassmaster LIVE.
KVD is clearly ready to take on Brett Hite on Championship Friday
Photo: KVD is clearly ready to take on Brett Hite on Championship Friday - KVD is clearly ready to take on Brett Hite on Championship Friday