Saying the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series season was a rough one for the legendary Nitro Boats pro Kevin VanDam would be a massive understatement. The Mercury pro didn't make the Bassmaster Classic. He has been a fixture at the biggest event in pro bass fishing for over two decades, winning it four times.
That's all old news now. The 2015 Elite Series season is at the halfway mark and VanDam is performing much better than last year. He sits in the 16th spot in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race and seems to be ready to make his expected surge toward the top of the AOY standings by year end.
"I feel pretty confident moving forward in the season," said VanDam. "Up to this point I'm in a decent spot in the standings to make the Bassmaster Classic. I'm just not overly happy with my results so far.
KVD at work in California (Joel Shangle)
"Sure, I made the cut on the first two events, but had tough Saturdays. At Havasu and the Delta, I really felt I had the opportunity to do better. Havasu in particular I left a lot of AOY points on the table. It is a good thing that I am where I am now based on my results so far."
VanDam feels the second half of the season plays into his strengths very well, with one possible exception.
"I have plenty of confidence moving forward with the rest of the season," said VanDam. "I really like fishing Kentucky Lake. I've had success there. Fishing ledge patterns is fun. However, I'm not sure I have much of an advantage anymore fishing ledges. With the electronics being so good nowadays, everybody on tour can do it.
"The New York and St. Clair events are favorites of mine. I love Great Lakes smallmouth fisheries.
"The only one that may prove more difficult is Chesapeake Bay. The last time I fished there was the 1991 Classic. The fishery has changed. It does have similarities to the Potomac River where I've had some success. I've also heard it is a really excellent fishery. We will see."
Nothing in his career is taken for granted by VanDam.
"My confidence remains high even after a tough year last year and a decent start to the season," said VanDam. "To be really successful in this sport, you have to have a lot of things fall into place over time. It seems like that success is getting harder and harder to achieve.
"The competition is so good now. I never take my success for granted. I keep working to become more successful."