Cayuga Lake, NY: Nitro Boat’s Kevin VanDam came from behind at New York’s Cayuga Lake on June 26th to claim his second Bassmaster Elite title of 2016, beating 24-year old wonder Jordan Lee by just over a pound with a final weight of 71-13.
Widely regarded as the best bass fisherman in history, VanDam used a selection of Strike King lures to take the top prize. For softbaits, the Ocho stickbait, KVD Dream Shot, and Rage Tail Shellcracker did the trick. His primary hardbait bite was found on a KVD Suspending Jerkbait.
The Finger Lakes bass were in mid-spawn, some still coming in to coves and flats to build beds, and some post-spawn fish transitioning back out to the main lake. This called for a variety of techniques, from drop-shotting, to wacky-rigging, to Texas rigging.
“One thing I was doing was fishing for post spawn and pre spawn bass that were just coming up in stages,” VanDam said. “They were cruising on the inside grass lines. I was catching them with a wacky rigged Ocho.”
Because he was two pounds behind at the start of the final day, VanDam wasn’t sure that his 15-7 haul would seal the deal. But Saturday’s leader, Joran Lee, only weighed 12-10, putting Kevin over the top.
“Jordan has proven he’s a great fisherman,” VanDam said. “He was in the driver’s seat today, and I’ve been there plenty of times too. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. The key in a Bassmaster event is to just have yourself in contention going into the final day.”
VanDam banked a $100,000 cheque for the victory, plus a berth in the Bassmaster Classic Bracket Tournament, to be held on the Niagara River July 19–22. There, the top eight finishers from Cayuga will compete for a $10,000 cheque—and an automatic berth in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe in Texas.