Mercury pro Kevin VanDam claims second 2016 Elite Series title at New York's Cayuga Lake
Of all the victories that he's racked up in an impressive 26-year tournament-fishing career, Mercury pro Kevin VanDam's latest – at New York's Cayuga Lake – came in the rarest of fashions.
Just six weeks after claiming his record 21st B.A.S.S. tour-level victory at the "toughest tournament of my entire career" at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Louisiana, VanDam found himself raising yet another Elite Series trophy after weighing in 71 pounds, 13 ounces of Finger Lakes largemouth and smallmouth bass to squeeze past second-year pro Jordan Lee and Mercury teammates Brett Hite and Jacob Powroznik at the Busch Beer Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake June 23-26.
"I have to admit, this tournament was almost 180 degrees different than Toledo Bend," VanDam told the Championship Sunday crowd at Frontenac Park in Union Springs, New York. "I went into that tournament not feeling good about my practice, and really not knowing if I had the fish to even be competitive. This week at Cayuga, though, I knew what I had: After the first practice day, I knew that I could win it if I executed properly and managed my fish right. I've fished over 300 tournaments in my professional career, and can count on one hand how many times I've felt that confident. It's rare feeling."
VanDam diversified on a diverse fishery
With a steady wind disturbing the surface on Cayuga as VanDam opened up the throttle on his Mercury 250hp Pro XS and headed to his first grass bed on Championship Sunday, the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based veteran expected to match (or better) his 17- to 20-pound limits from the week.
That didn't prove to be the case. VanDam struggled to match the productivity of the first three days, and ended up pulling out baits that he hadn't used all week just to break the 15-pound mark.
"I think we were all surprised by how tough it was on Sunday," VanDam admitted. "I ended up catching two fish on a jerk bait, which I hadn't caught a single fish on all week. I think it was just a case of four days of everybody fishing through the same areas, and the conditions making it hard for guys to see their fish."
KVD puts Pro XS to the test on Cayuga
"I ran around a lot this week," VanDam said. "I sight fished a lot the first couple of days, so I ended up running from fish to fish to fish. Just the nature of the fishery this time of year, you have to move a lot, and I ran that Pro XS across three-quarters of the lake every single day. I've had some ups and downs this season, but I know darn well that I can count on that motor to let me have as many casts as I need, and to get me where I need to go, no matter what."
Upload your trophy bass photo (or any other fish) to BillDanceOutdoors.com! Or, post comments about other photos submitted by Bill Dance fans.
Join our online community and talk fishin' with thousands of other Bill Dance fans!
Bill Dance is one of the most recognizable names and brands in fishing and outdoor gear. Please browse through our selection of superior products that proudly carry the Bill Dance name.