After three events of the Bassmaster Elite Series season, Jonathon VanDam found himself mired in unfamiliar territory – in 97th place in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings.
He thinks he may have started to right the ship last week at Toledo Bend where he climbed 44 places (54th to 10th) over the course of the event to notch his sixth Top-10 finish on the Elite Series.
"All in all, I'm pretty pleased," he said. "After the practice I had, I wasn't sure how it would go. I caught a lot of good fish in practice, but they were extremely scattered and I didn’t feel like there was a specific area where I could really catch them."
His better fish came on a jerkbait and he caught other key weigh-in fish on a crankbait.
"I had one area that was really good and it was more productive in the morning," he said. "There was a shad spawn going on in the grass and there were some fish schooling in the area and I think lot of that had to do with the shad spawning."
He nearly left the area after it fizzled on day 1.
"I went through there and didn't get any bites and almost wrote it off," he added. "I went back on day 2 and made one pass and my first two bites were 6-pounders, so I stayed there the rest of the time."
While he moved up 26 spots in the AOY standings this week, he knows he's going to need a few more similar finishes to overcome two placements in the 90s from early on.
"I've been disappointed with how my season has gone," he said. "The Florida tournaments were pretty rough for me and I don't really know why. I don't feel like I fished much different, but I'm just more comfortable once we get away from the spawn.
"Then it was real tough missing the cut at Table Rock by an ounce. To be honest, I got a little mad. I really pushed hard and did a lot more research on Toledo Bend. I've fished here four times and this is the first time I've got a check there. It wasn't a good place for me in the past and I couldn't afford another bad tournament."
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