By Kevin VanDam

Be Patient When Patterning Spring Bass

Nothing gets an angler excited more than the early spawning period when the fish move shallow and you start seeing them around spawning areas.

Sometimes we think it’s happening sooner than it really is and that shallow fish are aggressive and eager to bite.

Some fish may move up and they may bite, but you have to alter your presentations to a sneaky, finesse approach and be patient.

By Kevin VanDam

What You Need to Know About Underwater Sounds

People often ask me about sound because they know I’m a longtime believer in HydroWave system that broadcasts s natural fish feeding activity beneath the surface.

The HydroWave is as a key part of my equipment. But there are other manmade sounds that anglers need to be cognizant of that can have a negative effect – at times - on bass.

Hunters know the importance of stealth when stalking animals. It’s no different than stalking bass; it’s important to be as quiet as possible.

But not all sounds create a negative reaction for fish.

One advantage of growing up on the clear waters of Michigan is I often watched how different sounds, pressure and activity affected bass. It’s been eye-opening, and some of my observations may surprise you.

Believe it or not, bass seem unfazed by the sound of outboard motors running around the lake. In fact some of our best days of fishing occur on hot afternoons when the lake is covered with water skiers, pleasure boats and other marine activity.

On the other hand, sudden unnatural noises made in close proximity of fish can be detrimental. Like, if you drop or throw your pliers or drop a tackle box on the bottom of the boat it can cause fish to react negatively.

Another negative is running your electric motor on high and intermittently, or thrashing the surface with the prop because the motor isn’t far enough down in the water.

It’s best to run your electric on low and constant speeds rather than turning it on and off repeatedly at high speeds. Again, it’s the sudden change of noise that can put the bass on guard.

Another issue that can make the bass wary is an older trolling motor that clanks in the bracket when you engage it. You should periodically grease the pins, spray lube on pinch points and tighten the bolts on the bracket.

Bass are more tolerant of routine trolling motor noises (run at steady speeds) than carp or shad. You can spook a carp in the shallows by simply activating a trolling motor. Yet, I’ve seen bass sometimes turn and look in my direction when I engage the motor.

That’s because bass are curious of those sounds that aren’t loud or overly invasive.

Of course, on those windless days when the sun is bright and the water is super calm, you have to be extra careful with the sounds you are making. If it’s windy and waves are crashing, underwater background noise isn’t as intrusive to the fish.

I’ve also heard some anglers talk about turning off their electronics when around fish, claiming that the constant “pinging” sound coming from the transducer will spook the fish.

I’ve never seen that. In fact, I’ve watched bass swim casually by my boat when I was in shallow water with the two depthfinders pinging away.

My electronics are too critical so I’d rather take the chance of spooking a few fish than be without my graphs.

If you are among the group that does think the electronics pinging spooks the fish, simply put them in standby mode. That stops the pinging and you don’t have to go to the trouble of rebooting when you need them.

We can debate the noise issue until the cows come home, but my advice is put more emphasis on a stealthy approach, like keeping the sun at your back and moving methodically, avoid abrupt noises, and keep your bait in the water.

By Kevin VanDam

I Love Braid, But Not for Drop-Shotting

Drop-shotting has become a staple for most Michiana anglers as well as in major tournaments around the country.

A huge trend among Bassmasters is to spool their spinning reels with a small diameter superline (braid) and add a long fluorocarbon leader.

Despite that trend, several touring pros still prefer straight fluorocarbon over the braid/fluorocarbon combination.

I like to do both, but I am among those who prefer to fish with straight fluorocarbon when possible while drop shotting.

I’ll explain why later.

By Kevin VanDam

(This is the second of a two-part series on how Kevin VanDam stocks his terminal tackle boxes.)

Hook Selection Deserves a Lot of Attention

Now is a good time to inventory your terminal tackle needs and get organized before the fishing season begins.

In the first part of the series, I talked about sinkers. In the finale, we’re going to cover hooks.

If you’re like most anglers, you have the same hooks in the boxes that you’ve had for a couple of years, and there’s a good chance some are rusted.

Rusted hooks lead to broken hearts!

By Kevin VanDam

(This is the first of a two part series on how Kevin VanDam stocks his terminal tackle boxes.)

Are You Properly Stocked with Sinkers?

Do you have an adequate supply of sinkers for the upcoming season? Inventory your terminal tackle before spring!

Shop the bargains at sport shows, local tackle shops and tackle catalogs.

Sure you have new baits on the mind, but don’t overlook terminal tackle that often gets depleted throughout the year.

By Kevin VanDam

Want More Casting Distance? Lengthen Your Rod Selection

Michiana anglers might want to consider lengthening their rods when fishing clear lakes.

As a Bassmaster pro, a new rule allows us to use rods up to 10 feet this year. Look for it to be a growing trend in the coming years.

Not that it’s going to replace the 7 footers you already use, but it will become a niche rod for special situations.

I’m working with Quantum to develop new spinning and cranking rods that extend beyond the former 8-foot limit B.A.S.S. imposed. Other companies are expanding their lineups as well.

Longer rods provide benefits, especially in those fishing scenarios where longer casts give the angler an edge.