Lake Guntersville, Alabama
Credit: Tony Arruza / Corbis

VanDam first fished Lake Guntersville in 1989 as a 21-year-old pro pulling in what, at the time, was a tidy purse – a mere $1,200 – and the lake on the the Tennessee River has remained one of his all-time favorites ever since. (Of course you're going to have a soft spot for a place that has earned you nearly 300 grand over the ensuing two decades.) That depth of experience has given VanDam a uniquely informed strategy for stalking Guntersville's big mouthed prey. "Early in the spring, a lipless crankbait is the perfect way to entice the bass, and in the summer and fall, with all the grass, using a topwater frog lure produces awesome strikes," says VanDam. As with any lake, the best time to fish is at low light – so early in the morning and then in the evening – which leaves the family plenty time to swim and water ski Guntersville during the day.