11-pound, 13-ounce fish starts VanDam on road to victory

ATHENS, Texas — Professional angler Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has a new love: Texas bass fishing.

Fishing Lake Lewisville on the first day of the Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament June 1, VanDam hauled in a new lake record largemouth bass that was also the biggest fish he’s ever caught in competition.

“I love Texas!” VanDam said at the weigh-in. “The state absolutely has the best fishing in the country, and I just love this fishery.”

VanDam went on to win the four-day event, vaulted to the top of the Elite 50 standings and pocketed a total of $106,000.

He also took home a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department lake record largemouth bass certificate, which was presented at the Friday weigh-in by Inland Fisheries district biologist Rafe Brock. “It’s good to see that the best anglers in the world have enjoyed Lake Lewisville so much this week, and the record bass just shows what an excellent fishery we have here,” Brock said.

Further evidence of the quality of the fishery was the total catch for each day. On Day One, 41 of the 50 anglers brought in five-fish limits. The 233 fish weighed 528 pounds, 7 ounces. On Day Two there were 38 limits totaling 219 fish and 457 pounds, 1 ounce. The field was cut to 12 anglers on Day Three, and they produced two limits and 34 fish weighing 68 pounds, 13 ounces. On the final day of competition, VanDam brought in the only limit among the six anglers left, who brought in a total of 12 fish weighing 22 pounds, 10 ounces.

Lake Lewisville has been largely overlooked until now, said pro angler Alton Jones of Waco, but it has much to offer. “We have a lot of fisheries in North Central Texas that don’t get any publicity because of lakes like Fork, Sam Rayburn and Ray Roberts,” he said. “This lake has lots of rock piles, and along the shoreline you’ll find some flooded willows. It’s got a lot of targets to throw at in the form of stumps, boat docks and rock shorelines. There’s some good cover to fish; you’ve just got to find it.”

And thanks to VanDam, anglers know there’s at least one 11-pound, 13-ounce monster to be found out there.