Time to put a stop to all of the "what's wrong with KVD this year?" talk. A visit to the healing waters of Kentucky Lake has gotten him well in a hurry.
After a sub-par start to the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series season, the five-time Angler of the Year is right back in the hunt for his sixth points crown. He nailed down his second victory in 3 years at Kentucky Lake today with a 21 1/2-pound bag that gave him a 4-day total of 92-05, and with one event remaining, he's suddenly well within the cutoff to advance to the 12-angler postseason series at which the AOY will be determined.
His total was about 6 1/2 pounds better than that of runner-up Edwin Evers, who's now just 62 points behind leader Skeet Reese in the AOY chase. Evers sacked 20-06 today for an 85-12 total and finished one position higher than where he started the day.
Terry Butcher, Evers' brother-in-law who's having the best season of his career, caught a day-best 23-01 and ended up 3rd with 80-04. Jason Quinn's 16-01 bag and 78-01 total kept him in 4th his best showing in a regular-season Elite tournament since 2006.
Derek Remitz, the 2007 Rookie of the Year, continued his stunning comeback season with a 5th-place finish his third straight among the Top 12. His 21-14 sack gave him a 78-09 total.
Here are the final totals for the dozen anglers who fished today:
1. Kevin VanDam: 92-05
2. Edwin Evers: 85-12
3. Terry Butcher: 80-04
4. Jason Quinn: 78-15
5. Derek Remitz: 78-09
6. John Crews: 77-11
7. Kelly Jordon: 77-10
8. Matt Herren: 75-05
9. Brian Snowden: 71-13
10. Matt Greenblatt: 69-08
11. Scott Rook: 67-02
12. Keith Poche: 65-11
VanDam's 17th career Bassmaster Tour victory pulled him within two of Roland Martin's all-time record. It was also his sixth regular-season Elite triumph, which is more than double what anyone else has compiled (Mike McClelland and Reese have three each).
Of more immediate importance to him, he collected the maximum number of points with his wire-to-wire win and jumped from 26th to 8th in the AOY race.
VanDam saved two spots for the final day and one of them produced four of the five fish he weighed in.
As expected, the traffic on the lake today was a significant factor some Elite anglers had to settle for their fourth or fifth choice in regard to starting locations. VanDam had saved two areas in anticipation of just such a scenario, and one of them produced four of his five weigh-in fish.
The regular season will conclude next week on the Arkansas River out of Muskogee, Okla., which will be a new venue for the majority of the field. The postseason will commence in late July at Lake Jordan and the Alabama River.
Still a Thrill for VanDam
VanDam can barely count his tour-level trophies on every finger and toe he possesses, but he said the thrill of victory is enhanced with each succeeding triumph.
"Every one is sweeter than the last," he said. "It's hard with the kind of scrutiny I get to get a chance to win and I was concerned about that going into the day. There was a lot of people fishing and I had to just grind it out, and it worked out for me.
"I had a couple of places that I'd saved and one paid off big-time nobody was fishing it. The first three or four places I went had local guys on them, but it's a big lake and it's public and that's the way it goes."
He now has two victories, a 2nd and a 3rd in his four visits since the inception of the Elite Series in 2006.
"It's just one of those lakes that fits my style. I love the Tennessee River and I've had a lot of success up and down the chain. I knew I had to have a good week and it all came together, and the feeling's pretty awesome."
He cranked river ledges with a Strike King Series 6 XD the same bait that brought him his runner-up finish a year ago. Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be posted soon.
2nd: Evers Feels Blessed
Evers spent most of the tournament in scramble mode, but managed to finish ahead of all but just one angler.
"It feels real good anytime you have a Top 12," he said. "I just feel very fortunate and blessed because I didn't find anything I was proud of on the first 2 practice days. On the third day I found a couple of groups, but (VanDam) started on one of them and the other one never did fire.
Edwin Evers milked on spot today and emerged with a 20-pound bag.
"I basically started over from scratch at 10:00 on the first day of competition, and I was fortunate to find some. They've got great fans here and everybody's real gracious. A few of my spots today had boats on them, but that's how it goes. There's a lot of great anglers around here and they're fishing for money, too."
He caught about 15 keepers today and his bag was topped by a 5 1/2-pounder.
"I just hunkered down in one spot and milked it for all it was worth. I caught a lot of smaller fish it seemed like everything shrunk down today."
3rd: Awesome Day for Butcher
Butcher's big sack pushed him up four places on the leaderboard and his finish propelled him to 6th in the points standings.
"It feels real good," he said. "I had an awesome day today and I got a lot of points to try to make that Top 12 (for the postseason). I feel great right now."
He didn't get a bite at either of his first two locales, but ended up spending the entire day at his third stop. He had an 18-pound limit by 8:15 and ended up culling five 4-pounders.
"There were some locals fishing around me, but none of them ever bothered me."
4th: Good One for Quinn
Quinn's finish gained him 18 spots in the points standings. At 42nd on the list, he's got a chance to slip inside the cutoff in the last event for the second straight year.
"I feel real good," he said. "It was a real good tournament for me I didn't lose any fish. It was pretty brutal out there today with all the boats, but it is what it is."
He didn't get to fish any of his five best places as local boats occupied all of them. He had a limit by 9:30 and made several culls thereafter, but never got a big bite.
"I caught about a dozen keepers and a bunch of short fish. I expected there'd be a lot of boat traffic and I kept some backup stuff for that. They were places where I could just catch keepers, and I had to resort to that."
5th: Remitz was in his Element
Remitz enjoys fishing offshore, so the event was enjoyable for him from beginning to end.
"I feel great about my finish, especially because I got to catch them the way I really like to," he said. "It's pretty much my favorite way to fish."
Terry Butcher's 23-01 stringer was the best of the day.
He caught 10 solid keepers today and a few others that barely exceeded the 15-inch minimum.
"It took me a while today I didn't catch a limit until 1:00. I had two little ones in there, and then I went to my next spot and culled those with a (5-pounder) and a 4.
"The key for me was just putting my head down and fishing. Every day I really didn't know what was going to happen."
Additional Weigh-In Notes
Here are some notes from the weigh-in from other anglers who fished today.
6th: John Crews
"I've been trying to fish as well as I can every day this year, and then when I'm done with one day I try to make the next one better. It's been working for me and I hope it keeps up. It's been getting progressively better each tournament, it seems like."
7th: Kelly Jordon
"To make up a 3-pound deficit I knew I had to get five bites in that one area I had, and they just never showed up. I don't have any regrets I went all-in on that one spot and it was a great run until today. When you go for the win, sometimes you get left behind."
8th: Matt Herren
"It's been the most trying week of my life trying to catch these fish they're the hardest things in the world to get in the boat. What a tremendous fishery I can't say enough about the Tennessee River. I was catching 80 to a hundred fish a day, except today I only caught about 50."
9th: Brian Snowden
"It's been a good year. I had one bad tournament at Clarks Hill, but this is the time of year I really like. It's just amazing when you catch these fish on a crankbait how far they can jump out of the water."
10th: Matt Greenblatt
"I caught most of my fish on a big Berkley swimbait, from 19 feet down to 30. The key was keeping it down and slow-rolling it, and they were jumping all over it. It was painfully slow, but that's how they wanted it."
11th: Scott Rook
"My fish kind of moved around in the mornings they'd be on the tops of the humps, then as it got hotter or they pulled current, they'd pull off to the sides. You really had to work to stay on top of them."
12th: Keith Poche
"It was nerve-wracking, showing up this morning with the 11 other guys. It was the chance of a lifetime and I'm having a great time. I'm just learning to stay calm and trust what I'm doing and believe in myself and I know I need to keep working hard."
> Day 4 stats 12 anglers, 11 limits, 1 four.
Day 4 (Final) Standings
1. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, MI -- 20, 92-05 -- 320 -- $100,000
Day 1: 5, 25-00 -- Day 2: 5, 24-02 -- Day 3: 5, 21-11 -- Day 4: 5, 21-08
2. Edwin Evers -- Talala, OK -- 20, 85-12 -- 295 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 19-14 -- Day 2: 5, 21-12 -- Day 3: 5, 23-12 -- Day 4: 5, 20-06
3. Terry Butcher -- Talala, OK -- 20, 80-04 -- 290 -- $20,000
Day 1: 5, 15-15 -- Day 2: 5, 21-10 -- Day 3: 5, 19-10 -- Day 4: 5, 23-01
4. Jason Quinn -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 20, 78-15 -- 285 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 21-01 -- Day 3: 5, 21-00 -- Day 4: 5, 16-01
5. Derek Remitz -- Grant, AL -- 20, 78-09 -- 280 -- $14,000
Day 1: 5, 18-11 -- Day 2: 5, 16-01 -- Day 3: 5, 21-15 -- Day 4: 5, 21-14
6. John Crews -- Salem, VA -- 20, 77-11 -- 276 -- $13,500
Day 1: 5, 14-08 -- Day 2: 5, 18-00 -- Day 3: 5, 25-00 -- Day 4: 5, 20-03
7. Kelly Jordon -- Mineola, TX -- 20, 77-10 -- 272 -- $14,500
Day 1: 5, 16-06 -- Day 2: 5, 26-12 -- Day 3: 5, 24-00 -- Day 4: 5, 10-08
8. Matt Herren -- Trussville, AL -- 20, 75-05 -- 268 -- $12,500
Day 1: 5, 18-13 -- Day 2: 5, 19-04 -- Day 3: 5, 18-01 -- Day 4: 5, 19-03
9. Brian Snowden -- Reeds Spring, MO -- 20, 71-13 -- 264 -- $12,000
Day 1: 5, 15-01 -- Day 2: 5, 19-10 -- Day 3: 5, 22-01 -- Day 4: 5, 15-01
10. Matt Greenblatt -- Palm Beach Gardens, FL -- 20, 69-08 -- 260 -- $11,500
Day 1: 5, 20-00 -- Day 2: 5, 18-09 -- Day 3: 5, 19-01 -- Day 4: 5, 11-14
11. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, AR -- 20, 67-02 -- 257 -- $11,000
Day 1: 5, 15-02 -- Day 2: 5, 22-05 -- Day 3: 5, 16-11 -- Day 4: 5, 13-00
12. Keith Poche -- Troy, AL -- 19, 65-11 -- 254 -- $10,500
Day 1: 5, 20-01 -- Day 2: 5, 21-07 -- Day 3: 5, 14-06 -- Day 4: 4, 09-13
Kelly Jordon -- Mineola, TX -- 10-01 (Day 2) -- $1,000