• Starboard Choice Marine
  • Moore Boats
Blackfish Gear

Bait Fuel

By Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam's tournament rig

Long distance travel with a boat in tow requires some careful consideration before you leave your driveway.

I get a lot of questions about towing with or without a cover and some of the extra steps needed to insure a safe trip and protect your investment.

For short trips around home, I don’t cover the boat, but when I’m headed for a long distance destination, I definitely put it on.

I use the custom cover that comes with my Nitro Z-21 that offers additional padding around the trolling motor, depth finders and other key points.

It’s absolutely critical to cinch your cover down tightly to avoid anything flapping loose in the wind as you head down the highway. If you trailer a lot with the cover, any part of the cover that is allowed to flap or rub can affect the finish of the boat and damage the cover.

By Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

When the water is cold, it’s a key time to consider lighter line, smaller baits and finesse tactics when the fish aren’t aggressive.

Because of the water temperature, the bite can be very subtle. A lot of anglers struggle with that because the bite can be hard to detect. Oftentimes the bass spit out the bait before they realize it.

I’ve seen it happen when I’m catching fish and less experienced anglers aren’t. It’s not because they weren’t getting bites, but rather they weren’t recognizing them.

If you’re one of those anglers, I have some suggestions on how you can sharpen those skills.

By Kevin VanDam (As told to Louie Stout)

Kevin VanDam

In yesterday’s story, I offered the reasons I believe that water temperature is overrated when predicting activity levels in bass.

For years we’ve believed that, to catch bass in super cold water, you have to fish dainty baits vertically and ever-so-slowly.

My experiments while fishing through ice-covered lakes have proven that bass are more aggressive than some anglers believe and will bite faster moving baits.

Alabama Rig anglers confirmed that pulling multiple swimbaits horizontally during the coldest weather of the year produces big bass, and oftentimes, multiple fish on one rig.

My additional experiments, immediately before our northern lakes freeze and after they thaw, have proven that bass will hit power fishing type lures. Some of my favorites are crankbaits, jerkbaits, swim baits, swim jigs – all of which have provided me with remarkable success in very cold water while other anglers are trying to finesse the bites.

By Kevin VanDam (As told to Louie Stout)

Kevin VanDam with big smallmouth

It’s wintertime here in Michigan and I’ve been very busy preparing for next season. I’m gathering up my new equipment, jerseys and tackle.

With the cold weather comes ice fishing season for us here in the north. I have a private pond behind my house where I do a lot of lure testing. It’s a great laboratory because the water is clear and I can watch how bass react to baits and new techniques.

The pond is starting to freeze, which means I’ll get the opportunity to get on the ice and do some hard-water fishing in the coming days.

Believe it or not, ice fishing has taught me a lot about bass and how they react in cold weather. It also has changed my way of thinking about bass aggressiveness in cold water.

By Kevin VanDam

Bait matching forage

This is the time of year when anglers are planning trips to year-end championships or fall fishing vacations scheduled outside their local element.

They will be seeking out help from others, hoping to find hotspots and lure choices.

While that may be helpful, knowing the dominate baitfish in the lake you’re about to fish can be an extremely important asset.

It’s really critical during the fall when bass target the most abundant species in a given lake as they fatten up for winter.

Yet, gaining solid knowledge about the baitfish in a specific lake is something overlooked by many anglers who assume “bait is bait.”