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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.”

By Kevin VanDam

Should You Power Fish…or Finesse ‘em?

When you watch or hear how fellow competitors approach various situations, you can get a different perspective of what works for others.

Some pros opt for power fishing, others with finesse fishing and then there are those who mix the two dramatically different techniques.

It’s no secret that I love to power fish. I feel more efficient when I’m covering water. I believe it increases my odds of finding an area where the fish are numerous and biting, especially on the lakes we fish that are vast and you can’t cover much territory by fishing slow.

On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that there are times when finesse fishing is the most effective way to fish.

By Kevin VanDam

Lure Creation Involves More Than You ThinkOne of the many factors I’ve enjoyed about my relationship with Strike King is my involvement of lure design that I use every day to catch fish.

Company personnel are all serious anglers but they know the importance of using the pros’ knowledge in every step of lure development. The pro staff is deeply involved in lure creation and we all work as a team to create baits that help us be successful on the competitive circuit. We not only have a say in the design of baits but new colors that are introduced.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in development of some incredible baits. Good examples are the KVD 1.5 Square Bill crankbait and the Red Eye Shad, each of which helped me win back-to-back Bassmaster Classics.

By Kevin VanDam

Rigging Considerations for Drop Shotting

To make a drop-shot rig work properly in Michiana waters, experiment with rigging techniques. Getting the right set-up can make a bigger difference.

Water depth and cover are keys to how I determine the leader distance between my hook and weight and how I rig the lure.

The distance between the sinker and hook is determined by how far off the bottom the fish are positioned and whether I’m fishing vertically or casting the rig.