"One of the great things about my job is that it allows me to experience a lot of great fishing on a lot of great lakes," says Kevin VanDam, offering up one of the great understatements of sporting history. The reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year, KVD (as he's known to fans of fishing) is like the Tiger Woods of Bass catching; from his 247 Bassmaster tournaments, he's the winningest pro bass fisher, snagging some $6,000,000 in purses. In a recent chat, he gave us the inside scoop on his favorite spots across the country for finding monster-sized bass (and a few tips for actually catching them). Launch Gallery >>
Lake Guntersville, Alabama
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.
Credit: Tony Arruza / Corbis