Find Fish Everywhere: Kevin VanDam, Bobby Lane

Find Fish Everywhere: Kevin VanDam, Bobby Lane
Kevin Van Dam (Photo by Josh Gassmann)

If you make your living catching fish, like Kevin VanDam and Bobby Lane, you've figured out a thing or two. 

By Joel Shangle


If there's one skill that pros have honed to a razor's edge, it's the most basic of them all: how to locate fish quickly. 



It's actually the most important part of their job, especially for those pros who fish the unique tournament format called Major League Fishing. MLF anglers compete in a hyper-speed format, where the sole goal every competition day is to rack up as many pounds of bass as possible in a 7 1/2-hour window against a half-dozen other pros trying to do the exact same thing.

Bobby Lane, 2017 MLF World Champion, said, "We're under the gun to find fish and figure out what they want that day from the word 'Go!' It's really just a test of some basic fishing skills that every angler should have, but put on fast-forward speed."

1) CHECK CONDITIONS


Rule No. 1 for Lane when he's approaching a new fishery — whether he's competing or just fishing for fun — is to pay close attention to general behavior patterns for the time of year he's fishing. All of the environmental factors that occur during the four seasons (water temperatures, water clarity, levels of sunlight) contribute to the type of baits he fishes and the pace at which he fishes them.

"I base almost 100 percent of my fish location on time of year," Lane said. "I'll usually have six rods on deck, each rigged a little differently: a flippin' stick, a Senko-style bait, a spinnerbait or Yo-Zuri Knuckle, a swim jig and some type of topwater. Winter and springtime would be more non-action baits — stick worms and so forth — summer or fall would be faster-moving baits like topwater, spinnerbaits, baits where you're fishing to more active fish."

2) GET TO THE BANK

No matter the time of year, seven-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam expects a fair percentage of fish to be on the bank. 

bass fishingHis advice for locating them quickly: put your trolling motor on high and throw a search bait.

"The most efficient way to cover as much water as possible is to get on that trolling motor and throw a squarebill," VanDam said. "There are times and places where the best fishing is offshore, but it can take a little more time to locate them. Almost any new lake I fish, I'll go down a bank with a Strike King KVD 1.5, which covers the surface to about 3 feet, and make as many casts as possible.

"If there are fish there, I'll find them with a squarebill."

3) DOWNSIZE BAITS

Lane points to one critical adjustment he made during the 2017 World Championship as a major key to success on a limited time schedule: downsize or upsize baits according to what your first few bites are telling you.

"I started out the World Championship fishing a 3/8-ounce swim jig and had two or three fish strike it but no hookups," Lane said. "I immediately switched to a 1/4-ounce jig and a smaller trailer, and just wore 'em out after that."

Upsizing your bait might also do the trick, but change the size when there's a lull.

"You have to ask yourself 'How are the fish striking?' because they'll tell you what size bait they want. If you're looking to catch a lot of fish in a short amount of time, that's a critical piece of information."

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it. Fishing How-To

Why You'll Lose Your Next Big Bass

Larry Larsen

Now that you know you might screw it up the next time a big fish bites, let's fix it.

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications. News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

 Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

 Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the day; Catfish

Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

See More Stories

More Other Freshwater

 The new Abu Garcia Revo Rocket has a 10.1:1 gear ratio. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

Abu Garcia Other Freshwater

What You Need to Know About Gear Ratio

David Johnson - July 23, 2018

The new Abu Garcia Revo Rocket has a 10.1:1 gear ratio. (Photo by Scott Bernarde) Abu Garcia

Understanding shad is key to finding them, no matter which river you're fishing. Other Freshwater

American Shad! Facts About 'Poor Man's Tarpon'

David Paul Williams

Understanding shad is key to finding them, no matter which river you're fishing.

The fish of 10,000 casts is a worthy adversary, and there are plenty of great spots to pursue it in the North Star State. Other Freshwater

Minnesota's Muskie Magic

Gary Korsgaden - June 24, 2019

The fish of 10,000 casts is a worthy adversary, and there are plenty of great spots to pursue...

See More Other Freshwater

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×