When Kevin VanDam speaks, bass fishermen crowd around and listen intently. When he talks about his favorite Michigan bass lakes, they take notes.
VanDam, known as KVD by his countless fans, is the greatest angler to ever pilot a bass boat. He calls Michigan home and grew up fishing many of the Wolverine State’s fabulous bass lakes and rivers. Here’s what he has to say about another one of his favorite Michigan fishing destinations.
VanDam has tangled with a slew of bass while fishing the bays and harbors off Lake Michigan. One of the best is Grand Traverse Bay, a smallmouth mecca.
“I love fishing Grand Traverse Bay,” VanDam said. “It has some of the clearest water you will ever fish. You can see bottom 35 feet deep.”
Grand Traverse Bay is 32 miles long, 10 miles wide and up to 620 feet deep. It is divided into east and west arms by The Old Mission Peninsula.
“Both arms have tremendous smallmouth populations,” VanDam said.
When the wind kicks up waves on this large body of water, avoid the turmoil by fishing the lee side of the peninsula, VanDam suggested.
Spinnerbaits and jerkbaits draw wrist-jolting strikes in the spring when the bass move shallow to spawn. VanDam recommends that you try these lures in the bottom end of the bay at this time.
Given the depth and clarity of the water in Grand Traverse Bay, the smallmouth go deep after they spawn.
“In the summer, you can be sight fishing for smallmouth that are 30 feet deep,” VanDam said. “And I don’t mean bedding bass.”
A tube and a drop shot rig are VanDam’s workhorse baits at Grand Traverse Bay. When the bass are deep, they roam about rocks and steep dropoffs. On calm days, you can see the bottom structures you are casting to.
“There are a lot of bass there and a lot of big ones,” VanDam said. “And they are some of the strongest smallmouth you’ll ever catch.”