It's only fitting that the day after the Super Bowl marks the end of an era in the world of professional bass fishing. Arguably the greatest angler to ever compete, Kevin VanDam, has announced his intentions to retire from competitive angling at the end of this year. This year marks his 33rd season competing on the tournament trail. VanDam made the announcement in a three-minute video that was uploaded to all his social media accounts.
"Family has supported me through it all. My wife, Jackson, and Nicholas. Being on tour is tough. Spending so much time on the road, it's hard for family," VanDam said in the video. "I've done it for a really long time, and I have so many great memories."
VanDam's list of accomplishments will be tough for future pros to follow. The Kalamazoo, Michigan native spent most of his career, 28 years, fishing the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. During that stretch, he won the "super bowl of bass fishing," the Bassmaster Classic, four times. He is the only angler other than Rick Clunn to win it more than twice. VanDam was also the Angler of the Year with Bassmaster seven times, and once more with Major League Fishing. He also won the MLF Cup three times. You can see the full retirement announcement in the video below as he is filmed surrounded by the impressive hardware he's won over the course of his career.
As to be expected, the news of VanDam's intentions to retire quickly rocked the bass fishing world. Few anglers have dominated the sport in the same fashion as KVD. He won 25 B.A.S.S. tournaments during his career. He has the second-best winning percentage in Bassmaster history behind only Bill Dance. VanDam has also set many records over the course of his career. He holds the record for the heaviest winning five-fishing limit weight during the Bassmaster Classic at 69 pounds, 11 ounces. He also holds the record on the total opposite side of the spectrum for lowest winning Classic weight at 12 pounds, 15 ounces during tough conditions in 2005. VanDam began his career at 23 years old in 1990 and racked up a staggering 121 finishes in the top ten, and 183 finishes in the top 20. VanDam also thanked the late B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott, who passed away last May, for founding the club and kick-starting the era of professional bass fishing.
"I've been fortunate over my career to compete at the top level of the sport, and I couldn't have done that without great support from all of my sponsors," VanDam said.
He also noted his plans to continue with the partnerships he's made with various sponsors and brands in the future. So, while he's giving up competing, it still seems VanDam plans to remain a prominent figure in the world of bass fishing during retirement. He also thanked the fans for their support over the years and he plans to interact often with them this year.
"I cannot understate just what that means to me," he said. "I love this sport, I love sharing it with other people who are passionate just like me, and that's what it's all about. Without the fans, we have no sport."