How Kevin Vandam became the best bass fisherman in the world. And what it takes to get to where he is.
KVd took his fourth Bass Masters classic title in New Orleans this year. Proving once again that he is the best Pro bass fisherman in the business. The guy is amazing. He is living the dream that thousands of bass fishermen dream, and he thoroughly deserves to be where he is. I'm sure there are lots of beginning bass fisherman, who are dreaming of being where Kevin is today. So let's look at how he got to this level in bass fishing and what it takes to get there.
I first met a 20 year old Kevin Vandam in 1991 at a Bass Masters BP top 100 tournament on Lake Lanier in Georgia. He was in his 3rd year of professional bass fishing and until this tournament had not had a win. But he had been consistently at the pay window and was already drawing some attention. This tournament was in early December. The day before the event started a huge cold front blew in, and the first day was brutal to put it lightly. Below freezing temps, blue bird sky's and a 25 mph north wind had most of the competitors fishing deep water for the lakes spotted bass. Most of the weights for that first day were small; up until Kevin weighed in a near 20 lb. sack of largemouth bass to take the lead. His weights only improved over the next 2 days and he took his first big win.
During and after the tournament, I heard talk among the competitors that dubed Kevins win as a fluke. Statements like "the kid lucked up on this one. but he'll drop his bubble gum for the rest of the year." However I had had a chance to talk to Kevin and get to know him slightly during those 3 days; and I had a feeling that this statement was way off base. It turned out I was right. As he went on to finish in the top 3 in 3 more tournaments in the following year.
KVD, even at his young age then, knew more about bass than anyone I had ever met. The guy was, and is even more so now, an absolute expert on what bass do. And not only is he an expert on what bass do, when, and why they do it. But he is a machine when it comes to catching them, and you could see his love for the sport shinning in his eyes. He works and fishes harder than anyone I've ever met. He is indeed one of those special people that you only meet once in a lifetime. This is exactly what it takes to get to the level where he is today. But it's not all that it takes.
Why few anglers ever make it to Kevin's level in bass fishing.
Kevin Vandam's passion for fishing is much stronger than the average fisherman. Back in the days of the Top 100 at Lake Lanier, the guy had a one track mind. He ate drank and lived bass fishing. Most anglers have a passion for the sport. but it comes and goes with the seasons. And after a few years, they lose it completely. Guys like KVD have the passion 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and they never lose it. To get to the level of these guys, it takes true dedication. Without that driving ever lasting passion for fishing, it's impossible to maintain the dedication that it takes to get there. That's why very few ever get to that level.
The driving passion, hard work and knowledge is not all that it takes. Pro Bass Fishermen are not just fishermen. Most people don't realize it. But they're salesman as well. Sponsors are the bread and butter of the business. Without corporate sponsorship, nobody goes anywhere in the game of professional bass fishing. Kevin Vandam with his knowledge, good looks and personality, is also one of, if not the best in this aspect of the business as well. KVD has no problem driving 500 miles to tournament, fishing at break neck speed for 3 grueling days and leaving the night after the tournament to drive 500 more miles to help sell Strike King Lures for 3 days. He loves this stuff.
So, what does it take to be the best fisherman in the world?
I believe that the key is having a driving, never ending passion for the sport. Some say that it takes raw talent; which is true. However a passion, like raw talent, is something that is not learned. You either have it or you don't. If you have that type of passion, then you have the talent. Next it takes total dedication. Again, if have the passion you will be able to develop the dedication. The bottom line is, if you have that driving love for the sport and competition, you will be able to put in the tons of work, and make the sacrifices that getting to that level of the sport where KVD sits today. It's been many years since I spoke to Kevin; but I can tell by his accomplishments that passion and drive is still there for him.
If you are one of the few that have what it takes and you are willing to do what it takes, you may be wondering, if it's worth going for from the financial standpoint? Well, in 2010 alone KVD took home $650,000. Over his 23 year career so far, he's made over $5,000,000 and that's just tournament winnings. Not taking into consideration all the money for endorsements.
If you think that you have what it takes to be the best bass fisherman in the world, I say go for it with everything you have in you. You just may get there!