You ever hear that saying, “what do you get the person who has everything”? We’ll, when you’re KVD, you’ve fished just about everywhere, seen it all, and done most of it! But, there’s no place he’d rather be in the fall. Hide him in the back of a creek full of shad with stained water and you’ll be hard pressed to wipe the smile off his face because the largemouth will be stacked in there like cordwood with a fiery temper.
Pay Attention to These Fishing Indicators
VanDam loves fishing this pattern so he’ll stay tuned for the following indicators.
Rain- For reservoirs that have shad in them, after a big rainstorm or a big front moves across the country and an area gets a good freshwater influx, shad will move into the backs of tributaries and the bass will follow. The recipe of falling temperatures, stained water, shad, and hungry largemouth makes for an awesome afternoon of fishing.
Google Earth- “You can see tributaries on a lake map but with Google Earth, you can see which ones have stained water to them! That’s a good starting point.”
Secret spots- “Based on the lake levels, sometimes you can have major tributaries that have a large flat and if the water drops, it concentrates all the bass in the deepest water that’s there. They really focus on the creek channel. It can really be some phenomenal fishing when the bass are really concentrated. It’s fun to me.”
Birds- “Definitely look for birds like herons or gulls working these areas that’ll tell you the presence of bait."
Surface Activity- “A lot of times, you’ll see the bass school because you’ll see them busting and they’ll give their location away.”
Fine Tuning the Details
|Humminbird Helix 10 CHIRP MEGA SI+ GPS G3N Fishfinder/Chartplotter|
He’ll venture up the tributaries to find where clean water from the main lake changes to stained. Finding 18-inches of visibility is optimum- with typically dirtier the better- it concentrates the fish on what cover is still available.
A Humminbird Helix 10 CHIRP MEGA SI+ GPS GP3N Fishfinder / Chartplotter and Lake Master mapping make finding the hidden or harder to find little bends or underwater points easy. “You can go into the backs of these creeks and side- image where a channel bends in the middle of a flat. Definitely look for bends in the creek channel and where the creek channel comes close to a bank- finding underwater stumps or rocks are critical as they can hold a whole school of fish.”
Key Fishing Lures
|Strike King Swinging Sugar Buzz Buzzbaits|
Strike King KVD 1.0, 1.5, and 2.5 square bill- “It’s a good lure to use when you’re searching because you can feel the bottom. You can feel where it’s mud, rock, gravel, and you can feel a stump when you hit it. It's a good way to feel your way and follow the underwater creek ledges and some of these flats, and it’s an efficient way to cover water.”
Strike King Sugar Buzz- “The bass in these areas seem to get very territorial and a buzz bait is really good for covering a lot of these shallow flats. If there are any isolated stick ups or stumps or brush, buzz baits catch big fish since they’re very surface oriented and keying on shad. A 3/8-ounce Tour Grade buzz bait is in the mix as well. He’ll rig both with a Mustad KVD Trailer Hook in 2/0 or 3/0.
Sure, buzzbaits will catch fish right out of the package, but KVD has unlocked some key secret modifications that definitely catch more, and better quality, fish.
The Squeaky Buzzbait Secret
|Strike King KVD Spinnerbait - Tandam Indiana|
Mixed Bag- If there are trees that are washed out on the flat, he’ll flip it with a creature bait or a jig. He’ll also throw his spinnerbait like the Strike King KVD Spinnerbait - Tandam Indiana or a Strike King Red Eye Shad if he has large flats to cover and the fish are roaming.
When Target Casting - VanDam will throw both on his Quantum Tour KVD 6’10 medium-heavy graphite rod paired with a Quantum Tour KVD 150 Casting Reel with 7:3:1 gearing spooled with 20- to 25-pound Bass Pro Shops Excel monofilament as it affords him more control. When fishing flats, he’ll opt for the same reel but spool it with 30- to 50- pound braided line but will switch his rod to a Quantum Tour KVD Cranking Rod 7-foot medium heavy action rod. This set-up is designed for longer casts, it allows him to clear the blade easily and gets the hooks in real good.
|Bass Pro Shops Excel Monofilament Line|
Memory Lane for Kevin VanDam
Early on in his career, VanDam won the 1997 Virginia Eastern Invitational at Buggs Island Reservoir by running the upper reaches of the lake and fished two major tributaries. He caught all his fish throwing crankbaits and spinnerbaits on little channel swings and underwater ditches long before side-imaging could help him!
“I basically found all of it by feeling my way around there and was able to win the tournament. It was a fall tournament and it was a very obvious place as there were a lot of herons there and the shad were active” VanDam recalled. “It was a big creek and there was a lot of other people fishing. What helped me was fishing the non-obvious channel swings off the bank and where the creek channel wound through flats. It’s the most reliable pattern in the fall”