Kevin VanDam

On the first day of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, I thought I knew where and how I could catch enough bass to perform well in the tournament. But in the first places I stopped, I didn’t catch a bass, so my day started off wrong. After that, everything I knew how to do only would produce small bass, many of which were too small for me to weigh in. I didn’t get any quality bites at all. I kept moving and grinding, but honestly, I was really frustrated. I was expecting to get at least two to three good bites, but that didn’t happen. If you bass fish, especially in tournament fishing, you expect to have these frustrating days. However, I knew that on these upper reaches of the Tennessee River, if I could get a couple of really good bites, I could have a giant day of bass fishing.

One of the problems on that first day of the 2019 Classic was the water had come up quite a bit from what it had been in practice. When that happened, the bass moved to another location. When you’re river fishing, you usually can pinpoint where the bass should be. If they’re not exactly where you’ve thought they are, you can miss them altogether. When I have a tough day of fishing, I try to recover by replaying the day in my mind and looking at what lures and locations have produced bass, even if the bass are little. I look for positive areas where I think bass may be holding.

Although I didn’t catch the bass I expected to on this first day of the 2019 Classic, I pinpointed several regions with a lot of shad holding in them. Those areas looked like they should produce bass, since bass want to eat shad. So, I searched for those same types of pockets with shad in them, and hopefully would find some larger bass feeding on those shad.

But I’m not going to get locked in on any tactic. The only thing that’s certain about river fishing is every day will be different. We’ll have various weather and water conditions and temperatures. So, I’ll attempt to get an idea of what I’ll try to do the day after a bad day of fishing, but I don’t get so locked-in to that game plan that if the next morning the conditions have changed, I know I need to be open-minded enough to change my strategy to match the conditions. I’ve always attempted not to be hard-headed and be willing to change the very moment I see water, weather, and fishing conditions change.

By Kevin VanDam