VanDam chats about the Elite Series

Updated: April 6, 2006, 6:11 PM ET
Editor's Note: This is a free preview of BASS INSIDER content. Click here to start your 30-day free trial of BASS INSIDER and enjoy all the benefits that membership brings!

Welcome to another Bassmaster.com chat. On Monday, October 31 we chatted live with Kevin VanDam, winner of of the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic and one of the latest anglers to sign-up for the exciting 2006 CITGO Bassmaster ELITE SERIES. Here's Kevin's take on this explosive new tour.

Visit www.Bassmaster.com for complete ELITE SERIES coverage.

SportsNation Chat Admin: (12:58 PM ET ) Stand by to chat live with CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler Kevin VanDam. Kevin will take your questions about the Elite Series momentarily.

SportsNation Chat Admin: (12:59 PM ET ) Kevin's on the line folks, so bring it on.

Brian, Missouri: Will new up and coming anglers who cannot afford to pay the entry fees for the upper level tours like the Elite Series be able to make a big bang early on like you did when you started?

SportsNation KVD: (1:01 PM ET ) I think so because a lot of people are forgetting the Tour has a really good payout. Just like what we fished just the year before. And, the higher the bar is raised on the top level, by the top people, the more opportunities there will be for everybody else. It's just like what Tiger has done for golf. You are seeing more amateurs rich the pro tour. The same thing will happen with bass fishing.

Tim, Iowa: The president of the PAA has signed up to fish the Elite Series, which seems to be a conflict with the PAA's budding relationship with Irwin Jacobs and FLW. What's up with that?

SportsNation KVD: (1:03 PM ET ) The PAA does not have a budding relationship with Irwin Jacobs. Our mission is to increase relations with all tournament organizations to create better opportunities for anglers. And I think that is exactly what happened with Irwin's new tour.

Robert, South Carolina: KVD: Rick Clunn and some other guys had their Elite Series entry fees in days before you did. How come you waited until the last minute to sign up?

SportsNation KVD: (1:04 PM ET ) I was waiting to see what was going to be the best for my sponsors and myself. I had to wait and see with the sponsors that I have what I needed to do. I couldn't do anything until I had all the contractual issues worked out with them.

Steve, Maine: Would you have fished the Classic had you not signed up for the Elite Series? And what do you think about those anglers that have qualified for the Classic but are going to fish FLW next year?

SportsNation KVD: (1:06 PM ET ) Yes, I would have and that's what we've all earned ... that spot in the world championship of bass fishing. So yes, I would be fishing the Classic no matter what I'd done. And those guys should be fishing the Classic as well.

Ron, California: One Web site said this week that if you had not stayed with BASS 'their boat would have been sunk' Without you and Tim Horton, it would have been a 'circus.' Do you think you have the power to make or break the new tour?

SportsNation KVD: (1:07 PM ET ) I think it's really important for us to have really good communications with which ever tour it is that the anglers and the organization work together to grow the sport. And whether that is FLW or BASS.

Brad, Texas: All the internet comments and news lately has been about the Elite Series, but not much has been said about the BASS Tours (formerly the Opens). Will up-and-coming tournament fishermen have a realistic shot at making the Elites by fishing the Tours?

SportsNation KVD: (1:09 PM ET ) The Elite Series in theory should raise the bar on the sport. And by doing that, everybody below us will benefit. It will create more opportunities for those guys to reach our level. The better and bigger the Elite Series gets, the better the feeder series will be also.

Charley, Texas: Do you think that bass fishing will ever reach the same level as NASCAR and the PGA? And if it does will it be a bad boy sport like NASCAR or more of a wholsome sport like the PGA, or some where in between?

SportsNation KVD: (1:11 PM ET ) There are similarities between NASCAR and the PGA and bass fishing. But there are differences. I believe this sport has a lot of room to grow and it's going to be grown through the personalities of the sport, whether you are mild mannered like Mark Davis or at the other end of the spectrum like Ike. There's room for everybody. As the purses get bigger I think you'll see more rivaliries, mind games, controversies. Which is really part of any really big professional sport. Rivalries can't be created. They are built.

Eric, Ohio: KVD, you seem to be at your best for the big events (Classics and the E-50's). What do you think gives you the edge in these events?

SportsNation KVD: (1:12 PM ET ) Without a doubt I put more emphasis and energy into the Classic. I just put a lot of effort into it.

JASON, KANSAS: Do you have your boat wrap deal squared away? Can you tell us the sponsors?

SportsNation KVD: (1:14 PM ET ) I don't have it completed yet. I'm in the final negotiations in which I hope to have it all wrapped up soon.

Robert, Kentucky: Do you think the pros are starting to tell too much? I am afraid we are going into a sport that because of TV is triyng to get a little too much like pro wrestling. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you think that is whats' going on, and if not what direction is it going to take?

SportsNation KVD: (1:17 PM ET ) I think the fans want to know exactly what we are doing on the good and bad days. TV is the key platform for showing the emotions from the greatest days we have on the water. And on some of the very bad days. And a lot of the fans can relate to that. As far as giving out GPS coordinates on a lake, that's where TV is going too far. It's not fair to the fish.

Winter Haven, Florida: What is too much to carry as a non-boater? In other words, what would you like to see in the back of your boat? How many rods, tackle boxes, gear in general.

SportsNation KVD: (1:18 PM ET ) I think six rods, one tackle bag, average size at that, and a rainsuit along with lunch and drinks is plenty. If you don't have exactly what you need then most guys are willing to share their gear. I have allowed lots of my co-anglers use my rods, tackle.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma: What do you think about the tour changes next year?

SportsNation KVD: (1:21 PM ET ) In theory the Elite Series model I believe is a good plan to increase the awareness of our sport and the anglers. The intitial problem was the way it was implemented in the communication process and the way it was rolled out. I think BASS as an organization realized they made some mistakes through this process and have tried to communicate with a lot of the anglers to earn back their respect. But respect is something that is not given. It is something that has to be earned. It will take time and it will happen. As an organization they seem very committed to the Elite Series and its success.

Rod, Kansasa: Do you think that the dancing, yelling and screaming some pro's exhibit after catching even the smallest of keeper bass is going overboard?

SportsNation KVD: (1:24 PM ET ) There are many instances where that emotion is real, but what amazes me is to see the change in guys from pre-Iaconelli to post-Iaconelli. There seem to be a lot of copy cats out there. Mike should be flattered.

SportsNation Chat admin: (1:26 PM ET ) Kevin is catching a flight so we are wrapping up the chat. Thanks for joining us.