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By Louie Stout
The often delayed construction of the proposed public access on Eagle Lake near Edwardsburg continues to drag on without results.
The DNR purchased land on the east side of Eagle Lake Road for access development in August of 2014. Although it remains public property, it has sat undeveloped.
That’s because the Eagle Lake Improvement Association – as it has done for years – continues to pour money into a legal fight to prevent access to one of southwest Michigan’s most popular fishing lakes.
Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., wins the 2016 A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend held out of Many, La., Sunday, with a four-day total weight of 96 pounds, 2 ounces. - Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster
MANY, La. — Superstar professional angler Kevin VanDam often deals with a different set of circumstances than the average angler on the Bassmaster Elite Series.
With such a sparkling resume, many fans’ expectations for VanDam are much higher. With such a recognizable name and face, the number of people who want to catch a glimpse of him doing his thing on the water is sometimes off the charts.
Because of all that, many people have wondered aloud these past five years if VanDam would ever win another major tournament. But he was never one of them — and now, he’s silenced all of his doubters.
VanDam slammed the door on a wire-to-wire victory at the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend with 21 pounds, 6 ounces of bass on Championship Sunday. The big bag gave him a four-day total of 96-2 and his record 21st victory in a B.A.S.S. event.
“This was the most challenging tournament I’ve ever won,” said VanDam, who raised his career earnings with B.A.S.S. to just over $5.9 million with Sunday’s $100,000 payday. “The first two days were pretty good, but the last two days were really, really tough.
“It’s normally not hard fishing here. But with the pressure out there this week, trying to be there at the right time when the conditions were right, it was tough.”
VanDam caught 29-5 Thursday and 20-11 Friday to lead the field into Saturday’s semifinal round with 50-0. But with the weekend, the lake became more crowded — and at times, VanDam had as many 50 boats following him from spot to spot.
He got only five bites Saturday. But they were the right five, and his bag of 24-12 gave him a lead of more than 5 pounds going into Sunday. During the final round, he slowly put together another big limit of 21-6 and put himself beyond the reach of Alabama angler Chris Lane, who finished second with 88-7.
KVD’s go-to baits for the week were big, deep-diving crankbaits from Strike King — the 6XD, 8XD and 10XD.
“If you want to be successful out here, you have to be really confident in your lures and techniques,” VanDam said. “I didn’t stop and fish a worm or a Carolina rig or a jig. I knew to catch big fish I just needed to grind it out.