Kevin VanDam, better known as KVD in bass fishing circles, says he is better-prepared for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic than he’s been for any of his other 23 Classic competitions. The Bassmaster Classic will be on Guntersville Lake Feb. 21-23, with weigh-ins held in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
NewsChannel 9's Richard Simms will be in Birmingham and on the water during the Sunday final. Keep up with Simms' weekend reports on Facebook and Twitter.
KVD has won Classic competitions an amazing four times. He is the seven-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
"Most Classics, I’m scrambling right down to the wire trying to get ready. For this one, I feel prepared on all levels," VanDam said. "My tackle prep is done, my equipment is ready, and I feel prepared mentally."
VanDam prepared in a way he has not for any of his recent Classic appearances: He scouted Lake Guntersville.
"It was a very meaningful trip for me," he said, "Lakes that have a lot of grass change from year to year. I’m hoping that seeing it last fall will help me."
VanDam already knows Guntersville well. In his Bassmaster career alone, he’s been in 13 competitions on Guntersville.
Backed by such a history, he’s prepared to take chances to go after Guntersville’s largest bass. That’s what it will take to win this one, he said.
"It’s all or nothing. You have to be prepared to fail, have the guts to risk coming across the stage with nothing," he said.
There’s a new wild card in this Classic, too: the frigid weather Guntersville experienced in January and so far in February.
"I’m not sure any of us really know the impact of that," he said. "It’s unprecedented. Fishing’s going to be a lot tougher than a lot of people think. In the overall field, some will struggle. The few people who find the right area and patterns are going to make it look easy."
At least one of those anglers will beat the five-fish, three-day Classic weight record, VanDam said. The record, 69-11 in the 2011 Classic on the Louisiana Delta, will fall, he said. (And he’s the one who owns that record.)
Arena doors will open at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. for the weigh-ins. There’s no admission charge. Bassmaster.com
will cover the weigh-ins live, and all online access is free.PHOT: Kevin VanDam reacts to one of his four previous Bassmaster Classic wins. (Photo: Contributed)