In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.
He is the complete package – fierce competitor with multiple championships, ambassador to the sport, family man and, of course, a firm believer in Oakley glasses.
Professional bass fishing has risen to a major sports level in recent years with regular season and national championships televised on ESPN2.
“When it comes to professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen,” says ESPN Outdoors Commentator Mark Zona. “in my mind, he is the best of this era and will be the best I cover as long as I am a commentator.”
In fact, VanDam was honored with the first-ever Outdoorsman of the Year ESPY trophy at ESPN’s televised awards program in 2002.
As the all-time money winner on the Bassmaster Tournament trail, VanDam has earned more than $3.6 million through 2009, captured two Bassmaster Classic titles (2001,2005) and five Toyota Tundra Angler of Year titles (1992, ‘96, ‘99, ‘08 and ‘09).
The Bassmaster Classic title is the most coveted in bass fishing, attracting the best anglers in the world who qualify for it through a regular season schedule. VanDam has earned berths in 20 consecutive Classics since he turned full-time pro in 1992, the longest running Classic qualification streak of any active pro.
In 221 career Bassmaster events, he’s won 16 times, finished second 11 times and landed in the top 10 an amazing 84 times!
The 42-year-old pro honed his angling skills while growing up in Michigan where he had the opportunity to fish for a variety of fish species, including trout, salmon, muskies, walleyes and northern pike.
“You can learn a lot by fishing different species in the diverse variety of lakes and rivers we have in Michigan,” he offered. “But bass is my first love.”
As a teenager, VanDam dominated tournament circuits around his Kalamazoo home, winning The Michigan BASS Federation Angler of Year twice before turning pro.
At age 23, he became the youngest to win the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year title, collected an unprecedented 23 consecutive in-the-money finishes and shattered tournament records.
VanDam attributes much of his success to his quality sunglasses, noting that most athletes wear sunglasses for style and comfort. While those are valuable features, he says, his Oakley’s are necessary tools in fishing and nearly as important as his rod and reel.
“Sunglasses are critical in our sport and why you see all of the pros wearing them,” he explained. “It’s not only because we need eye protection from the sun, but we need to see well into the water.”
Recognizing subtleties in bottom composition and seeing stumps, clumps of grass or an occasional fish are all keys to being a successful angler and finding the right ingredients to catching more bass, he added.
“I have several pairs and styles to fit the different light conditions, water clarity and techniques I am using,” he said. “That’s a great thing about Oakley – there is a lens color and frame to match everything I do.”
In fact, VanDam has been instrumental in helping the company expand its line of quality glasses specifically for anglers and make Oakley the most preferred sunglasses in professional angling.
VanDam and his wife Sherry have two twin boys, Jackson and Nicholas.
When he’s not touring, you’ll find him spending with time with his boys – fishing during the summer and deer hunting in the off-season.