VanDam wins 2010 Bassmaster Classic at Lay Lake

The most dominant angler in Bassmaster history added to his legacy at the 2010 Bassmaster Classic at Shelby County’s Lay Lake Feb. 21.

Kevin VanDam, a Kalamazoo, Mich., native, became the first professional angler to top $4 million in career earnings when he took home the $500,000 grand prize after winning the 2010 Classic at Lay Lake.

VanDam, who caught two of the three largest bags in the three-day tournament Feb. 21, captured the title after reeling in five bass weighing a total of 19 pounds and 7 ounces on the final day of fishing.

VanDam, who finished with a three-day total of 51 pounds and 6 ounces, said Shelby County and other area residents who came out to watch him fish at Lay Lake were the reason for his success. Beeswax Creek was crowded with spectator boats and fans standing on the banks of Lay Lake, anglers said.

“Lay Lake is a great lake,” VanDam said following the final weigh-in at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. “I had a lot of people following me on the water. The fans were absolutely great. They were the main reason I won today. Thanks for letting us borrow the lake for the day.”

VanDam won a Bassmaster Classic in the state of Alabama for the first time after six previous attempts at a Classic title, including three previous trips to Lay Lake. VanDam and the other top five anglers in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic found their favorite spot early in the week — Beeswax Creek between Columbiana and Wilsonville. VanDam, who caught the limit each day, said he didn’t move far from his spot after launching his boat at Beeswax boat launch.

“I was on the back of Beeswax Creek,” said VanDam, who won his third Bassmaster Classic championship.

Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., finished second with a three-day total of 46 pounds and 6 ounces. Kriet, who fished in the same area as VanDam, said Beeswax was the best spot on Lay Lake this week.

“The water cleared up and there was a lot of good grass, scattered stumps and a few rocks,” Kriet said.

Todd Faircloth, a Jasper, Texas, native, who finished third overall with a total of 44 pounds and 3 ounces, said the water in Beeswax Creek warmed up as the tournament progressed.

“It was the most fertile creek on the body of water this week,” Faircloth said.

Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., was the top-finishing Alabama angler. Lane, who caught his biggest bag of the tournament, an 18 pound, 1 ounce bag, on the final day of competition, said he was disappointed he couldn’t claim the victory in his home state.

“I’m shook up,” Lane said at the final weigh-in. “It’s been an unbelievable week. I love Lay Lake. I did all I could today. I really wanted to win this thing.”

Lane caught the biggest bass on the third day of competition, reeling in a 6-pound, 2-ounce bass.

Pam Martin-Wells, a Bainbridge, Ga., resident, became the first woman to advance to the final round of fishing. Martin-Wells, who caught the limit of five fish each day, made the cut after the first two days and finished 22nd overall with a total of 25 pounds.

“It’s been (an) indescribable (week),” Martin-Wells said. “That’s the best way I can put it. This has been an awesome week.”