AOY: The most respected title in fishing

Kevin VanDam has won the Bassmaster Classic four times during his illustrious career, and he remembers vivid details of each victory.

It’s hard to forget 2001, after all, hoisting his first Classic trophy in the Louisiana Superdome to cap a harrowing week in which Tropical Storm Barry threatened the Gulf Coast with high winds, rain and lightning. In Pittsburgh four years later, VanDam’s three-day total of 12 pounds, 15 ounces was the lowest winning weight in Classic history.

In 2010 on Alabama’s Lay Lake, VanDam’s third Classic title helped make him the first B.A.S.S. angler in history to surpass $4 million in earnings. And back on the Louisiana Delta a year later, he became only the second man in history to clinch a fourth Classic title, tying fellow bass fishing legend Rick Clunn for most wins on the sport’s biggest stage.

KVD wouldn’t trade those victories for anything, but there is one thing in bass fishing that means every bit as much to him – if not more – than winning a Bassmaster Classic.

And that’s the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Award.