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Tournament News Powered By Lake Drive Marine

By Al McGuckin

Kevin VanDam

While bass anglers in the South fish nearly year-round, March marks the unofficial start to fishing season for just about all of America, and preparation is the first step to a successful season. So, Kevin VanDam shares three tackle prep activities he exercises prior to each tournament season to help anglers of all levels have a better year.

Grab a pen. Make a grocery list.

“The first thing I do when I’m getting ready for a new fishing season is grab a notepad and pen. As I sort through all the lures, hooks, and weights, I literally write a list of anything I’m running low on,” says VanDam.

“It’s a simple but efficient way of making sure I’m not missing any of the tackle I’ll use most going into the season, without overstocking or wasting money on things I don’t need,” adds the Team Toyota angler.

Z-man Report

Z-man Mini Max

Behind the scenes, even before anglers tasted success with the ChatterBait JackHammer and its now-legendary bass vibes, the Z-Man architects were already on the water and at the whiteboard, conceiving the next phase of the bladed bass jig. On the magnum end of the hex-blade spectrum, Z-Man pro Bryan Thrift constructed the rod-pulsing Big Blade™ ChatterBait.

Z-Man champion Luke Clausen sang a different bass-attracting tune— a little ditty dedicated to small-fry forage, JackHammer-level lure quality and a slightly different vibe.

The ChatterBait MiniMax is already being heralded as an intelligent fish catching design with bulletproof componentry.

“One of our primary goals in designing the MiniMax was to give anglers a high-performance bladed jig in a compact package that handles big bruiser smallmouths and 5-pound-plus largemouths just as effortlessly as the JackHammer,” says Clausen. “When you examine the MiniMax’s hook, blade, skirt, and overall design, its pro-grade construction comes shining through.”

Bladed Jig Dissection

A tournament-quality bladed jig in a bite-size package, the ChatterBait MiniMax employs a premium heavy-duty 2/0 black-nickel hook for easy jaw penetration and maximum holding power. Dual molded conical keeper barbs lock soft plastic trailers tight to the jig. While wire-tied silicone skirts extend the life of each vibrant strand, even when big bass wolf it down.

As Clausen further explains, the ChatterBait MiniMax performs new and different bladed jig presentations, made possible by the lure’s subtle, refined frame.

St. Croix Report

Cranking for bass

Cast out the lure, start reeling, set the hook, fight the fish. That’s how many of us view fishing crankbaits, and the simple system works. The reality is, however, that more fish are lost on crankbaits that any other style of artificial lure.

Why is that? How is it possible that a bass can come unhooked from a lure armed with six separate hook points?

Reaction baits are named as such because they trigger a predatory reaction from gamefish.

Because these baits are moving when a bass hits them, it places special demands on the angler and the tackle. Specifically, the rod is already loaded when the fish hits – often violently – so there needs to be enough forgiveness in the tackle to keep the hooks from tearing free. This forgiveness can come from drag or from line stretch, but most significantly from the action of the rod itself.