You might think reaching the status of "best bass angler in the world" would require year round access to the water. Not true. The man worthy of that title, Kevin VanDam, is from Michigan. The water is hard and thick there in January. Fact is, at the time of this writing, VanDam was watching a blizzard outside his window. But inside - he was preparing.
"I use this time to get ready. The two things guys should be focusing on at this time of year is maintenance and inventory," said the Bassmaster Angler of the Year. "I start with reels. I put a little Quantum Hot Sauce on the bearings, and make sure the worm gear is oiled and free of grime."
"Once I know my reels are in good shape, and that all the guides on my rods are in good order, I take inventory of lures and line. This morning I discovered that I managed to bust some tackle storage trays last year, so I'll make sure I get some more Plano StowAway boxes," said VanDam.
Kevin also advises that preparing your 'inventory needs' list prior to winter tackle show season can save some coin. "If you know everything you need, you can carry that list to a local winter tackle show where sales promotions often exist and get some good deals on those items versus buying them sporadically later on in the year at full retail price."
"Winter also affords you the time to look in-depth at lake maps. Even if you fish the same three or four lakes all the time, there are probably areas of those lakes that you ignore a lot more than others. Don't get in a rut. Take a harder look at some of those areas of your favorite lakes that you might not have fished much lately," said VanDam.
And what if he could escape the blizzard and head south? "I'd go to Lake Guntersville," he said without hesitation. "In my opinion, it's got the biggest population of four to seven pound bass in the country, and I feel certain I could go there right now in January and catch the heck out of them on a Red Eye Shad or suspending Wild Shiner jerkbait."