There’s a reason why Kevin VanDam (KVD) is the all-time money winner ($5,499,476.33 to date, to be exact) on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail: The 45-year-old, seven-time “Angler of the Year” knows how to boat bass of all species better than anyone else on earth—and numbers don’t lie.

And that’s why we interrupted the Plano prostaff’s pre-fishing before his last tournament of the year, the 2013 Elite Series Plano Championship Chase on Lake St. Clair/Detroit River.

It’s all to bring you KVD’s first-person and private (until now) look at this phenomenal fishery and what it’s going to take to win the $100,000 purse at the end of the three-day event. And best of all, KVD—who’s now in third and verging on his eighth “Anger of the Year” title—was more than willing to answer our inquiries.

Question: Kevin, two vast Great Lakes [Huron and Erie], two colossal rivers [St. Clair and Detroit], as well as a massive lake in itself [Lake St. Clair is about 430 square miles with an average depth of only about 11 feet] are all open for fishing during this event. How does one uncover a bass’ whereabouts in these massive and diverse waterways?

KVD: The amount of water we have to fish during this event is huge…and I mean huge. It’s all about forage. Find the food sources and you’ll find the predators.

What is the forage base here?

That answer is as enormous as the Great Lakes. Perch, gobies, crayfish, alewives, and various types of shad as well as multitudes of shiner species make up the food chain for all species, including bass, walleye, pike, and a significant population of muskies.

What does this mean for the select 99 anglers that made the cut to fish this Elite tournament?

More tackle than ever. And I mean LOTS of tackle. The bass could be zoning in on most anything. And as for the pike and muskies, just say plan on sacrificing some baits.

Just name a few of the lures we might find materializing from your Plano tackle totes.

Overall, Lake St. Clair is a “power fishery.” This means lures you can fish fast and cover lots of water. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and the like will work wonders here, as well top-water baits. In the rivers, however, tubes and drop shot methods may be the key. In Erie and Huron, it will be a mix of everything an angler’s got. And that’s just for the smallmouth bass; some anglers will hook big largemouth bass, and that will call for a variety of frogs, crankbaits, and plastics.

What’s it going to take to win the 2013 Elite Series Plano Championship Chase, poundage wise?

If a participant doesn’t bring in at least a four-pound-average fish each and every day of the 2013 Elite Series Plano Championship Chase, in my opinion, they won’t stand a chance.

Last, but not least, what is the biggest challenge competitors will face?

The weather and water currents. The wind will play a major factor. Besides a “Plan A” and “Plan B,” you’ll need a “Plan C, D, E and F.” It’s just the way it is on such large bodies of water. Nobody is immune to Mother Nature.

Big water; big fish; concurring the former will take the later. Sounds like multiple Plano boxes and every trick in the bag will be what it takes to take top honors at the 2013 Elite Series Plano Championship Chase. Tournament goers, take heed.

Image courtesy Plano Fishing/ Traditions Media, LLC

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