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Professional fishing is big business and not only in respect of fishermen and women who step aboard trawlers and catch tons of fish for a living. The world of professional fishing, especially bass fishing, is highly lucrative if you make it to the top. As proof, you only have to look at Kevin VanDam, affectionately known as KVD. The Michigan native’s name is synonymous with bass fishing; as would yours had you won more than $7 million during your long and illustrious career.
VanDam first stepped foot in his first full season of Bassmaster Invitationals in 1990 when he was 22-years-old. Little did anyone know then that VanDam would go on to become a superstar in the fishing world, one who is regularly one of the favorites with online sports betting sites’ betting apps. VanDam’s record with rod and reel is one that is unlikely to be beaten any time soon; it is that impressive.
KVD won the BASS Angler of the Year during his first season on the BASS Top 100 circuit in 1992. His victory came as a significant surprise, not least because of his unique fishing style that differed massively from those VanDam competed against. The Michigan man, to date, has 25 total BASS wins and an additional four MLF Cup titles. In addition, he has been crowned the BASS Angler Of The Year winner seven times and the FLW Angler Of The Year on four occasions; only David Dudley has as many FLW Angler of the Year awards. Amazingly, VanDam has finished in the top ten in 35% of every BASS event he has entered, which is more than 320.
The 54-year-old father of two was inducted into Bass Fishing’s Hall of Fame in 2018, which coincided with his landmark 50th birthday. To this day, VanDam uses the same high-tempo, almost aggressive fishing style, using fast-moving lures like crankbaits, jerkbaits, and spinnerbaits, setting him apart from most other competitors.
Despite his ridiculous earnings from Bass fishing, VanDam is not the angler considered the greatest of all time by ESPN. That honor is bestowed on one Rick Clunn, a legendary figure in fishing circles who still competes today at the ripe old age of 75.
Clunn has placed in the top ten in more than 100 tournaments, including 17 outright victories. Four of those wins came in the Bassmaster Classic, a feat only matched by VanDam. Impressively, those four Bassmaster Classic titles spanned 14 years, showing Clunn’s skills progressed with the sport.
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Bass fishing is one of the most popular angling activities globally and revolves around angling for North American gamefish known as black bass. There are 14 species of “black bass,” all stemming from the sunfish family (Centrarchidae). The most commonly fished species are the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), the smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui), and the spotted or Kentucky bass (Micropterus punctulatus).
Bass can be challenging to catch because they rely heavily on scent when foraging and can easily pick up on foreign odors and smells. Bass anglers are wary of using chemicals such as sunscreen or insect repellant, while even tobacco smoke can scare off the fish. They wash their hands, rods, lines, reels, and artificial baits regularly to not deter the bass from biting.
Although a relatively small fish, the largest recorded catch tipped the scales at 22 lbs 4 oz. George Perry caught this monster of a bass in June 1932 on Montgomery Lake, Georgia. Japanese angler Manabu Kurita caught a bass of the exact same weight in July 2009 to tie for the largest bass caught. Others claim to have caught larger bass, but Perry and Kurita are the only people to have their catches verified by the International Game Fish Association (IFGA).