SPRING CITY, Tenn. – There are certain initials in the bass fishing world that just seem to fit together: KVD and TVA, for example. At the end of the third day of General Tire Stage Five Presented by Covercraft on Watts Bar Lake, it’s probably a surprise to nobody that one initial (KVD/Kevin VanDam) is leading on the other (TVA/Tennessee Valley Authority).
VanDam – who has racked up multiple wins on the Tennessee River in his illustrious career – entered the day in sixth place in his 40-man group. That didn’t last long. VanDam closed the 9-pound, 3-ounce gap between him and Day 1 leader Brandon Coulter in the first period and eventually ended the day with 12 bass for 30-0, both day bests.
VanDam Cruises to Championship Round
A 25-plus-year run of success shows that VanDam has the Tennessee River lakes dialed. VanDam owns several big wins on Lake Guntersville and Kentucky Lake, and claimed a win on Lake Chickamauga during last season’s Bass Pro Tour. That’s not taking into account his 20-plus Top 10 finishes on the fisheries. It’s no secret that he has the TVA figured out.
Now that he’s claimed an automatic berth in the Championship Round, VanDam has a 1-in-10 shot at adding Watts Bar to his list of TVA successes. What’s unique about his dominance so far this week is how he’s fishing – there are no offshore ledges and big Strike King crankbaits in his game plan. Instead, he’s sticking shallow and making it work.
“This week was exceptionally different than I would ever plan on fishing a summer tournament on the Tennessee River, but it’s worked out,” VanDam said. “I started in a creek away from the main lake to get a feel for how things were going. I was able to catch some fish and make a run at the lead. Normally things don’t go as scripted, but today was perfect.”
VanDam was thrilled to get a spot in the Championship Round because of the difficulty of advancing through the Knockout Round. It’s his first-ever automatic qualification for winning a group on the Bass Pro Tour.
“Those are the hardest rounds to get through because all of the guys who make it there have been catching them for two days in a row,” VanDam said. “Anything can happen once you get to the Championship Round. You can’t win it if you are not there on the last day.”