Celebrating the Holidays at the VanDam House

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and will have a healthy and prosperous New Year! The holiday season continues to fly by here at the VanDam house. We have a rehearsal dinner tonight and wedding Saturday for my nephew Steve Gould and his lovely wife Shelby. My parents are coming in from Florida for the wedding, so it will be good to have the family together.

Countdown to the 2018 Fishing Season

Once January 2 hits, I’ll be in full bore tackle preparation for the 2018 season. This is a critical time for any Elite angler. Once the season gets started, everything happens fast and you have your tackle preparation locked down.

Strategic Tackle Preparation

I do it now so that everything is fresh in my mind once we start fishing. I know I will have everything I need and know exactly where it is when we start fishing in early February. Anyone who fumbles through his boat looking for a special size hook, color of bait, or rod with the right line size is wasting valuable time on the water.

Mental Preparation with Bassmaster TV Shows

To get my mind even more focused, I watch videos of past “The Bassmasters” TV shows and while I’m working on tackle. Plano 3700 utility boxes serve as the foundation for all of my hardbaits. I have individual boxes for every size and style of Strike King hardbaits and replace all old hooks with Mustad KVD variety. I want fresh hooks on every lure I use.

Strategizing Soft Plastics

I evaluate my soft plastics, noting what I need to restock and add new colors.

Tackling Different Fishing Conditions

I’m thinking about the first three tournaments and what I’ll need. For example, we start at Lake Martin then head to Lake Hartwell for the Bassmaster Classic. Both lakes will be cold, are clear and contain spotted bass, so the same baits likely will come into play. But after that, we head to Orange, Tex. to fish a river system that will be dirty water and require an entirely different strategy.

I also sort through my terminal tackle, organizing my boxes in categories such as one for hooks, one for tungsten sinkers, one for drop-shot rigs, and one for jigheads. These items are placed in individual Plano waterproof StowAways with triple latches that keep everything in its place and dry.

Rod and Reel Maintenance

Once my baits and terminal tackle are squared away, I will go through my rods and reels, checking for issues and seeing what needs replaced. I know some people think I get new Quantum rods and reels every year but that’s not true. I have some reels that I’ve used for three years and will continue to run them until they no longer feel new.

Cleaning and Lubricating Baitcasters

However, I do a lot of cleaning with my reels and add Quantum’s Hot Sauce and oil so the reel feels like it did when I took it out of the box.

One of the biggest issues anglers encounter with used baitcasters is the worm gear needs cleaned and greased. I use a product called “Gun Scrubber,” a degreaser with a plastic spray nozzle that reaches tight places. I spray it on the outside of the reel and on the worm gear to remove sand and gunk, and then reapply grease to the gear.

I also pop off the side plate and put a drop of oil on the bearings. I run cue tips through my rod guides and the reel’s line pickup to check for chips that could fray the line.

When the season starts, I will be totally prepared and ready to do battle with the bass, because I know it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.