On the CITGO Bassmaster Tour his nickname is simply KVD, but around the rest of the world legions of fishing fans describe Kevin VanDam in more reverent terms. To them he is The Man, and there hasn't been anyone quite like him in the sport in many, many years.
The 38-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich., pro added to his growing legend by winning the toughest Bassmaster Classic in its 35-year history (he had won back-to-back Elite 50 events a few weeks earlier). For the record, he finished with 11 bass weighing just 12 pounds, 15 ounces but that is only part of the story. No one ever doubted this Classic, held in Pittsburgh on the Three Rivers, would be tough, but VanDam had called it perfectly months before when he noted that summer smallmouth were his specialty and that he had some special tricks for them.
That trick turned out to be a vintage Smithwick Rogue jerkbait. In essence, VanDam succeeded at power fishing when every other competitor downsized into finesse mode. That's what makes this Classic win so special. The Man gave us a new perspective on catching finicky bass.
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