By Al McGuckin
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.
Replace Treble Hooks
We all have our favorite “go-to” crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures, and those baits that have treble hooks hanging off their bellies need to be checked thoroughly to make sure the hook points are sticky sharp.
“I’m pretty fanatical about making sure my treble hooks are sharp, and the best advice I can give you is to upgrade one size on your favorite crankbaits and jerkbaits with fresh ones, and keep checking the ones you use most to make sure they stay sharp throughout the season,” he explains.
For example, baits that come factory equipped with size 6 trebles, he’ll increase one size to a size 4, and bigger baits that come equipped with size 4, he’ll bump-up to a meaty size 2. His favorite replacement trebles for those looking to order a couple packs are size 2 and size 4 Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip hooks, specifically model #TG76NP.
Special attention to spinnerbaits
VanDam launched his iconic career in the early 1990s largely on the strength of spinnerbaits, and while the crescent wrench tool of fishing lures is often overlooked by ChatterBait anglers these days, VanDam will warn you to make sure your spinnerbait game stays healthy.
“I like to make sure I’ve got a wide variety of replacement blades with a split ring already rigged on them to allow me to swap them out fast. For example, after we finished fishing in Florida, I noticed I was running low on 4.5 gold willowleaf blades. So, I’m always working to make sure I have a variety of blade sizes, shapes, and colors on-hand,” says VanDam.
So, as you anticipate a great fishing season ahead, remember success happens when preparation meets opportunity, and few anglers in the history of bass fishing are more organized and prepared than VanDam each time he hits the water.