by Gord Pyzer
once or twice in a lifetime does an ath- lete come along who so dominates his sport that he is tagged and recognized by a nickname, moniker or epithet alone. In baseball there was the Babe . Hockey had its Great One . Golf its Tiger . In fishing it is KVD . To put it simply, there are all the other professional anglers touring all the professional fishing circuits, and then there is Kevin VanDam, alone at the top, in a league of his own. In a sport once dominated totally by good old boys from the southern United States, where it is expected that you would first pay your dues before winning a major event, Van Dam appeared out of the north country and turned the bass fishing world on its head. The skinny upstart from Kalamazoo, Michigan had the audacity to cash a cheque in every event he fished and then capped off his rookie season winning the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award, considered by many to be the toughest prize in professional fishing. He repeated the feat again in 1996 and 1999 and captured the same honours on the rival FLW tour in 2001. But it is Kevin VanDam’s Bassmaster Classic Championship victories that stand out most prominently. VanDam’s won his first Classic in 2001, repeated four years later in 2005 and then won back-to-back Classic crowns in 2010 and 2011. I have had the distinct privilege of hopping into VanDam’s sleek Nitro bass boat, zipping up my life jacket and fishing with the multi-million dollar tournament winner several times over the past few years and every time I have climbed back onto the dock at the end of the day with more awe than the first. The guy is pure bass fishing genius. Poetry in motion. Because of those experiences I was perplexed – terrified might be a better word – when I set out to write about the greatest bass angler of all time. Like Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods – how do you put perfection down on paper? There is only one way I thought, through Van Dam’s own words. With that in mind, I spoke with Kevin as he readied his tackle recently for an- other event. Here are my questions and Van Dam’s candid answers.