As I sit here at 12am (which is by no means late for a normal college student), after battling a textbook all day and spending a little time weathering the arctic tundra on a frozen lake in Michigan, drilling a hole in the ice just to wet a line; I’m trying to come up with an idea to talk about in my first column.

First and foremost, an introduction for those who may not already know me; my name is Jonathon VanDam, or “JVD” as most call me. I am the 21-year-old nephew of 5-time Angler of the Year KVD.  I compete as a professional on the Bassmaster Northern and Southern Opens tours; chasing my dream of becoming a full time Elite Series pro.  I recently accomplished my first goal of winning a professional event this past season at the Northern Open in Lake Erie.  I am also attending college in pursuit of a degree in marketing. Again this is all geared towards my dream of fishing for a living.

So, while still struggling to find an idea for my first column, the idea hit me: “cabin fever”. How could I forget? As we turn the corner into February, one cannot help but to think about the upcoming season. Most northern anglers can relate, dealing with snow and hard water while southern tournaments are already underway is a perfect recipe for mild-madness. I can attest that it sucks.

On a better note, once again kicking the 2010 season off in exciting fashion is the Bassmasters Classic; this year being held at Alabama’s Lay Lake.  This should turn out to be another great Classic and, weather depending; we could see some bags in the 20lb range brought to the scales.  Any range of techniques could prove dominant at Lay this year, from flippin’ grass beds to crankin’ for some of Lay’s Florida strain Largemouth to casting a dropshot or jerkbait for the famed Coosa River Spots.  
This classic is full of heavy hitters but is up for grabs for any one of the nations 51 top anglers, 8 of which are local Alabama natives. And while everyone has surely decided their personal favorites to take home the title this year, here are five of my best bets…

Top 5 Contenders
Aaron Martins- He is one of the local Alabama anglers and is long overdue for his Classic win with 3 runner-ups, one of which being at Lay in 2002.  I look for him to be strong this year with the scrounger and dropshot playing out for him somewhere on this lake.

Skeet Reese- Even though Skeet is coming off of one of the best seasons anyone could ask for, I’d imagine he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder after barely missing the AOY title in ‘09.  He was also a very close second place at Lay in ‘07 with Boyd Duckett toping him by only 6oz.  Look for Skeet to make a run at back-to-back Classic titles.

KVD- Well of course I will always cheer for family, but I also know how Kevin fishes the Classic. To win.  He’s of course going for the longball on this one like any other.  He was third here in ‘07 and I expect his sexy shad to get its workout this year as well.

Ike- After also coming off an amazing season, finishing in typical style with a run at the AOY title.  Ike will be looking to best his runner-up at last years Classic and walk away from this one with his second Classic title.  He is one of the best on the water in power and finesse fishing and is defiantly not afraid to do both.

Frank Scalish- Frank is kind of a sleeper pick.  This is only his second Classic appearance with his only other being here at Lay in ‘02 where he finished 46th.  But I know Frank has put his time in preparing for this one.  He is coming off and amazing season ‘09 at the Northern Opens finishing 3-2-2.  I feel he will continue to ride his hot streak and make a run at the win that eluded him in ‘09.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back every month for more of the JVD Down-low.