Kevin VanDam wrapped up his 2022 Bass Pro Tour season with a solid 29th place finish on Mille Lacs Lake for Bally Bet Stage Seven presented by Minn Kota. Bass fishing’s all-time money winner was in his happy place on Mille Lacs this week, catching big smallmouth bass on reaction baits.
VanDam’s incredible career accomplishments have left him with extremely high expectations of himself, and while he might characterize this season as ‘decent’, his efforts would be considered a banner year for many professional anglers. The Team Toyota pro ended the season with a top 10 finish in the Angler of the Year race, was a threat to win a couple events, and carried himself with professionalism and class like the legend he is.
As the sun set on another year of Bass Pro Tour competition, we caught up with VanDam to ask him a few questions as he looked at 2022 in the rear-view mirror.
Q – This was your 32nd year as a professional bass fisherman, what stood out about 2022?
“Extreme and adverse conditions,” VanDam said quickly. “Mother Nature really let us have it the first half of the year with D’Arbonne, Fork, and Smith all being brutal, cold tournaments. We had a super diverse schedule that just always kept us (BPT angler) guessing. The guys who consistently caught them this year really had to earn it.”
Q – You ended this season with yet another top 10 finish in the Angler of the Year points, but what is one tournament from 2022 you wish you could have back?
“Lake of the Ozarks is one that really bothered me,” VanDam admitted. “I had a real good practice and just didn’t make the right adjustments during the event. I was around the fish to have a super strong finish there and it ended up being my worst of the year. I sure wish I had my Qualifying Day One back.”
Q – What was one new age tool or product that was important to your 2022 season? How about old school?
“Humminbird TargetLock used with MEGA Live Imaging without a doubt as far as new age technology. I got TargetLock about halfway through the season and it is a true game-changer.
“As crazy as it sounds, I think just running a pattern and covering water with a spinnerbait or KVD 1.5 Squarebill Crankbait might be looked at as ‘old-school’ nowadays. With the advancements in technology the last few years, you just don’t see a whole lot of guys fishing the way we used to get it done. But there is a time and place for old-school. Dialing in a pattern will still win you some money!”
Q – You now have a full year towing your Nitro with the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra, what are your thoughts? Give us one favorite feature, too.
“Truth be told – it’s an incredible truck. This thing rides like a dream, has better fuel economy than I’ve ever had before, and is a beast for towing my bass boat. I’ve got a i-FORCE MAX TRD Pro – with the new hybrid engine – ordered for 2023 and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it.
“If I had to pick one thing, it’d probably be the overall feel of the interior. It’s next-level comfortable, which is so important when you spend as many hours driving as I do. The new 14-inch LED screen makes navigation a whole different deal. It’s amazing, it really is.”
Q – What are you most looking forward to this off-season?
“Hanging with family and deer season! I stay pretty darn busy, so I don’t have much of an off-season, but I always look forward to spending time with family, the holidays, and just getting to be at home. Both my boys love to deer hunt as much as I do, so deer season is really special to us.”