BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 32

meant I got to keep all of the winnings; it took our friend Don, who I fished team tournaments with for years after that, to explain every- thing to me; I reluctantly returned Randy’s half of the money to him after Don’s explanation.” It was within the next two years that VanDam later joined his local bass club; he fished as a non-boater for the first ear, but soon realized that he wanted to be fishing from the front of the boat. “Af- ter being in the back of the boat for a year, I grew tired of not being able to make my own decisions, so I became a boater for my second year,” the VanDam domination would become evident in that early season. “I won Angler of the Year that next season, and decided it was the way I wanted to fish from that point on.” He would take his show on the road not too long after that, turning his attention to the Bassmaster Federation tournaments not soon after that season, and he would qualify for his Divisional, but decided the team concept wasn’t for him that year. “I found a bunch of flipping fish in Alum Creek that year, and after sharing them with the team, they ended up burning them quickly,” so he made the decision to go on his own. “I decided to go to the next level as soon as I could.” VanDam would enter his first Bassmaster Invitational when he was 18 years old, and he quickly found out

that he was capable of making things work on his own. “I drew Ron Shearer in that first tournament at Lake Ontario, and he talked me out of going to my fish,” VanDam said. “I didn’t do so well that day, I only caught one, but went to my fish the next day and did better.” The next year, he would fish his first full year on the Invita- tionals, finish as the points leader which qualified him to fish the Bassmaster Tour and qualify for the Classic for the first time, on the Chesapeake Bay in New York. The next year, he would secure his first Angler of the Year title on the Bassmaster Tour; the ‘Kalamazoo Kid’ was born, and the legend of the world’s best bass angler, KVD was about to grab the fishing world by storm.

When it comes to fishing techniques, every bass pro has a sig- nature technique; one with which they become defined. For Van- Dam, the thing most anglers and fans notice is how fast he fishes. From his perspective, his style is not because of anyone else’s in- fluence on him, but merely just an extension of who he is, and his experiences as an angler. “I’m not one to sit around,” VanDam revealed. “My fishing style is one that fits me, I move quickly and efficiently, trying to cover as much water as possible, as efficiently as I can, so I’ve developed a style that works for me.” He also said it is a result of fishing over his head as much as possible. “I’ve always felt that the best way to improve was to fish with and against people who had the capa- bilities to beat me,”

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May/June 2009