Kevin VanDam has competed in 288 B.A.S.S. events, but never one quite like the eight-man Bassmaster Classic Bracket that kicks off Thursday in Buffalo on the Niagara River.
VanDam, along with Quantum teammates Jordan Lee and Jacob Powroznik talked candidly about everything from goldfish to topwater ducks on the eve of the unique tournament format featuring abbreviated competition hours, one-on-one competition, no live weigh-in and an automatic berth to the Bassmaster Classic for the winner.
There are a lot of unique aspects to this tournament, but what single thing do you judge as most unique?
VanDam: Competing against one guy in each round of the bracket, versus 100 guys at a typical Elite Series tournament.
Lee: The super short hours in the early rounds. By the time you get to your fishing spot, you’re only gonna have a little more than 2 1/2 hours to cast and catch.
Powroznik: The fact that you have a 1-in-8 chance of making the Bassmaster Classic from a single B.A.S.S. tournament.
The Niagara River is a diverse and healthy fishery. Name all the species you hooked in practice.
VanDam: Smallmouth bass, White Bass and a 2-pound goldfish
Lee: Smallmouth bass
Powroznik: Smallmouth bass
Name four lures we’ll see the 8 anglers in this tournament use the most.
VanDam: Drop shot, soft plastic tubes, a small jig for pitching docks and topwater
Lee: Drop shot, jerkbait, tubes and a spinnerbait
Powroznik: Drop shot, tubes, pitchin’ jig and jerkbaits
Have you ever seen Niagara Falls, and how close will you fish to the actual falls this week?
VanDam: Yes, it’s a pretty amazing thing to see. I’ll get within about three miles of the falls, where the tournament off-limits boundary is.
Lee: Nope, never actually seen it. Turns out, I could see the mist from the falls during practice, and I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at until my girlfriend Kristen and I drove over a bridge later, and I figured it out.
Powroznik: Yes, I’ve seen it, but I probably won’t fish too close to there.
What single product do you remember most from the ICAST show last week in Orlando?
VanDam: That topwater duck lure that managed to win a Best of Show award.
Lee: A new skipping jig from Strike King. It’s got a really cool head design that’s gonna be awesome for skipping docks and versatile enough to cast into lots of other habitat too.
Powroznik: I’d have to say either Quantum’s new Smoke HD reel or Bass Mafia’s new tackle system.