GROVE, Okla. — Thursday afternoon brought an end to Kevin VanDam’s 2022 MLF REDCREST presented by Costa competition because the Grand Lake he loves (and has twice claimed victory on) just didn’t seem to love him back this week.

“I’m pretty perplexed and super disappointed, to be honest,” VanDam said while stowing his tackle at the Wolf Creek boat ramp in preparation for the 90-mile drive back to Tulsa. “Everything that seemed like it should work, based on my experience here, just never really materialized. It’s definitely frustrating,” he added.

But even amid the frustration and perplexion of defeat, VanDam was kind and gracious to fans and media gathered near his boat in the parking lot, as he smiled for some photos, autographed hats, and provided thoughtful insight during interviews. Plus, he has big plans to generously give back to the northeast Oklahoma community this weekend.

Q: What surprised you most about the way Grand Lake fished this week?

KVD: Not only how fast the water rose after the rain hit Monday, but also that the water didn’t get muddy in the mid-lake region I was fishing. In my mind, it actually got cleaner as it rose. So instead of the bass pushing shallower to the shoreline, like I thought they would, they just never did.

Q: What were the two lures you used most during Wednesday and Thursday’s competition?

KVD: Grand Lake has a ton of shad. So as long as I was seeing balls of shad on my Humminbird MEGA Live screen, then I felt like I was around feeding bass. So, I threw a Strike King Series 3 crankbait on 12-pound fluorocarbon in sexy shad, and a Strike King 300 series jerkbait, also in sexy shad.

Q: What was the primary pattern you tried to execute on Grand this week?

KVD: I was targeting secondary points in the creeks of the mid-lake region, and also the creek channel swings inside pockets.

Q: The whole week featured cold air, rain, and a ton of cloud cover, but I noticed you still wear sunglasses. Why is that?

KVD: Because even on really cloudy days the Sunrise Silver Mirror lenses in my Costas allow for more light transmission, which really lightens things up on dark cloudy days. That allows me to see little changes in water clarity and shallow water targets better.

Q: What are some of the details of the generous plans Sherry and you have planned for the Northeastern Oklahoma community this weekend?

KVD: We have a really fun fan appreciation prize giveaway in the Nitro Boats booth at the REDCREST Expo inside Tulsa’s SageNet Center all three days of the show. We’re calling it the “Blast Off. Cast Off.” There’ll be $15,000 worth of gift cards and merchandise fans can sign up to win, but you have to be present to win.

Plus, I’m really excited about the grant money we are giving away through the Kevin VanDam Foundation to fund three different projects that will ultimately fund habitat restoration and the stocking of F-1 strain largemouth bass in Grand Lake.