By now everyone who follows competitive bass fishing knows Kevin VanDam won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic.
Dominating the competition with a record-setting five fish bag of 69 pounds, 11-ounces, he tied Rick Clunn for most Classic victories and continued an incredible streak that saw him win not only back to back Classics but also consecutive B.A.S.S. “Angler of the Year” awards.
He has proven that he is the best competitive fisherman alive. VanDam reached a place only Clunn has tread and is moving even higher.
I could go on and on about his accomplishments in terms of prize money, statistics and endorsements but in my opinion his real triumph is proving without a doubt catching fish has nothing to do with luck.
Sure, anyone at any time can catch some record setting fish. There have been many monsters caught by rookie anglers.
However, when it comes to serious anglers pursuing fish, VanDam’s dominance in the bass field shows that a deep understanding of fish combined with technical prowess makes magic happen.
Luck does not see you dominating a field of incredibly gifted anglers and it does not produce record tournament bags.
I have had the pleasure of spending some time with VanDam over the last couple of years.
Our first meeting was at an exclusive media event on Lake Conroe after the 2009 Texas Toyota Bass Classic.
We fished half a day in terrible conditions as the lake was turning over. The water was turbid, the barometric pressure was high and the fish were not cooperating but I closely watched his every move and noticed something.
Even on a day where there was no money at snake, no prize to win, each cast was methodical, each retrieve of the crankbait was worked with intensity. Each flip around the boat docks was strategically placed.
Lake Conroe was not looked at as a vast body of water to cover. Instead each spot was given serious attention and focus and each decision made was inspired by the desire to catch fish.
Rank and file anglers like myself can take from this the knowledge systematic approaches to fishing will yield more results.
While we are not competing with the world’s top anglers, we are in conflict with time which seems to mysterious disappear more quickly by the year. If you spend your free time on the water and want to go from just fishing to doing some catching, do what KVD does.
You will probably never be able to cover a body of water as quickly or cast as far and as smoothly. However, you can look at this angler who is the kind that only comes to the forefront once a generation and realize there really is no such thing as luck in fishing.
There is only opportunity and how we seize it.
(Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)