VANDAM STILL FIGHTING FOR THE TTAOY
Story by Matt Pangrac - Photo by Dave Rush
Moore, OK – With two tournaments left in the 2012 Elite Series season, four time defending Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year champion, Kevin VanDam, is on the verge of watching another angler hoist the TTAOY trophy for the first time since 2007.
Heading into the seventh stop of the season on Lake Michigan this week, VanDam sits in seventh place in the TTAOY standings, 59 points behind leader Brent Chapman.
VanDam has had a solid season, recording a top 50 finish in all six Elite Series tournaments, but he has only made one top 12 cut with an 8th place finish this past March on Lake Okeechobee. In the first six tournaments of the 2011 season, VanDam recorded three top 12 finishes.
He also recorded back-to-back finishes below 40th place at Bull Shoals (45th) and Douglas Lake (41st) this season. The last time he had fished two consecutive tournaments where he finished below 40th place was way back in 2005.
After narrowly missing the final day cut last week on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin, VanDam took time to summarize his season and discuss what he needs to do to have a shot at the TTAOY title, which will be awarded at the final tournament of the season on Oneida Lake this upcoming August:
“Mathematically, I still have a chance. Brent (Chapman) had a big lead on me and I knew coming into the Mississippi River that not only did I really needed to have good events in all three of the remaining tournaments, but he had to have a bad one. You don’t want to wish bad luck on anybody, but I want to be there at the end.
“I’ve been fighting and working hard at it, and I’ve had a lot of things just not go my way the last four or five tournaments. Every tournament, I’ve been battling through some key lost fish. When things are going your way and you’re making good decisions, it seems to breed more success. When I get in situations like I’ve been in this year, it’s just hard to explain sometimes.
“I really have fished well this year. If I had the situations that I’m talking about to do over again, I wouldn’t do anything differently. It’s not like I didn’t choose the right areas or do the right things.
“The only tournament this year where things really went awesome for me was Okeechobee. I had a big day on day three where I caught 28 pounds. A window opened up when the big ones were biting and I was able to capitalize on it big time. I made good decisions throughout that tournament, and I felt really good about it.
“Every tournament since then, I’ve left something on the table. That’s just part of it. You take the good with the bad and do the best that you can and move on, but I’ve got to start making up some ground because we only have two tournaments left.
“I know that a lot can happen, but the problem for me is that in the last two tournaments of the season, people are going to be stacked right on top of each other in the standings. There are a bunch of guys ahead of me, and all of them have been catching them so I’m not gaining any ground.
“It’s getting to the point where I know that mathematically it’s not over yet, but I have to do really well at Green Bay, that’s for sure.”