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Avid sports fans no longer consider the GOAT one who blew the opportunity for the fans. Just the opposite, today fans will defend their guy's claim to the GOAT title to the end of time. 49er fans usually won't concede Montana's greatness to anyone. The same with Saints fans and Drew Brees. Just ask any Packer fan about the GOAT and they will recall every moment of the careers of Starr and Farve. But when you run the numbers- it is Tom Brady who comes out on top. The same is true of fishing. There are those who adamantly tout the greatness of Rick Clunn. Others say Jacob Wheeler is in the process of ascending to the throne. But when you run the numbers, the man they call KVD, Kevin Van Dam, stands atop the professional bass fishing world.

Kevin has won four Bassmaster Classic trophies and eight more for Angler of the Year- seven Bassmaster and one FLW. His dominance from 1992-2011 is hard to dispute, and as he proved on Lake Chickamauga this year, he hasn't forgotten his favorite move- the trophy hoist. Most

people know the KVD story. Kevin VanDam was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1967, where he still lives with his wife, Sherry, and sons Jackson and Nicholas. he graduated from He is the all-time money winner in professional bass fishing, having tournament earning- so far- about $6.9 Million. His Bassmaster Classic titles came in 2001, 2005, 2010, and 2011. His seven Bassmaster Angler of Year titles were in 1992, ‘96, ‘99, and four in a row in ‘08, ‘09, '10, and '11. His FLW crown was in 2001. KVD is one of the founding members of Major League Fishing.

He began his career in 1990 at the age of 23. In 1992, he became the youngest person to win the BASS Angler of the Year title, at age 25. His 25 career BASS tournament wins are the most by any angler who has fished the Bassmasters tournament trail. KVD also has 121 top 10 finishes, and 28 Classic appearances. He had already fished in 11 Classics and won 3 AOYs when he finally won the 2001 Classic in New Orleans- an event held under the threat of a hurricane that was spinning in the Gul. That first Classic win was definitely a milestone for KVD, a win he says stands out as his biggest win. Kevin considers the 2005 Classic in Pittsburgh the toughest, most intimidating and mentally challenging of his Classics. He only caught a limit of five bass one day during that 3-day tournament and his total weight was less than 13 pounds- three of the hardst days of bass fishing in his life. But Kevin sees that as

the tournament that really solidified his position as a pro bass angler, because at that time, only a handful of fishermen had won two Classics.

The 2010 Classic win came in Birmingham, Alabama, an early spring tournament on Lay Lake. Kevin's lasting memory of that classic was the cold. He caught all his bass I in the back of one creek. It is usually tough when you have a lot of spectator boats following, but in this case, because the creek was small, the spectator boats blocked anyone else from coming into that creek. That was his third Classic win, something only Rick Clunn had achieved at that time.

His fourth Classic win was also a return to New Orleans, site of his first Classic win. This time he was fishing as defending Classic champion, and again like the year before, the weather was cold. But this time the three day event occured during a warming trend and the big bass were shallow. KVD caught a number of large fish on the first day, and each day the fishing got better. This was the Classic Kevin was really able to dominate. this Classic, especially on

the final day. Each of his previous Classic wins had been nail-biters, but by mid-morning of Day 3, KVD was able to sit back and enjoy the event and share that joy with his family. With the 4th win, he again shared that rare air with only Rick Clunn. His weight for that event was 69 pounds- a far cry from the paltry bags of Pittsburgh.Of course only Kevin knows how long he will continue to fish at the sport's highest level. His commanding win on Chickamauga certainly proved he can still compete to win. And of course, no one knows for sure if KVD will walk across the Classic stage again before he retires. But one thing is certain, he still has the time, energy and talent to further cement his legacy as the GOAT.


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