For Williams, his first major victory at the FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith was a long-time coming, as he’s fished major-level events since 2009. Meanwhile, VanDam claimed his BASS record 25th tournament win at the Elite Series on Grand Lake. That many wins may make it seem like winning comes easy for him, but he’ll also be the first to always say, despite his trophy case, it’s still never easy.
How the two anglers ended up holding trophies this weekend was two far-different patterns.
VanDam milked a prespawn pattern, hitting close to 50 transition areas a day with a ½-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Structure Jig paired with a Strike King Rage Twin Tail Menace Grub and a Strike King KVD 1.5 squarebill.
Now, let’s talk rankings, because something pretty noteworthy is happening there.
First, Wiliams’ win, plus him dropping a near last-place finish at Bull Shoals in 2016, means he’s in the top 50 in our Majors Ranking for the first time.
Then there’s VanDam. A former No. 1-ranked angler, KVD actually slipped almost to the triple digits in our rankings during a 5-year slump without a victory. Now? He’s climbed his way to just outside the top 10! He currently sits in 11th after his winning and also dropping that Bull Shoals event. Plus, he’s set to drop off a mediocre Wheeler Lake event from 2016 this week. Combine that with the Elite Series going to Kentucky lake this week – a lake where he’s won twice and never finished outside the top 10 in six events, mind you – and this time next week we could see VanDam back in the top 10 of our rankings.