Kevin VanDam came into Toyota Trucks Championship Week and did exactly what he had to do to get the job done.
My hat’s off to him. As a fan of the sport, I wanted to recognize what he has accomplished, and what he seems to be able to do most days.
That’s not to say I didn’t have the opportunity to close him out. I did, but I didn’t execute on a couple of fish, and it cost me the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
I also want to recognize the seasons of a couple other of my competitors — Mike Iaconelli and Gerald Swindle. Ike has been on his “A Game” all year long, and he sits only a few ounces from being the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup Champion in the same season. He can be scary when he’s that “on.”
Gerald made a late season charge to get into the postseason, and it shows how strong he’s become. He made the race more compelling and added some real drama to the end of the season. All of our other competitors had great seasons and made the postseason what it was.
I also wanted to say how thankful I am that Mark Menendez’ wife Donna is recovering from her medical scare in Alabama. Donna had to leave the weigh-in on the second day of the Lake Jordan event. Mark left the weigh-in to care for his family, which says a lot about his priorities. I’m glad everyone is doing better.
On a separate note, every once in a while my job allows me to meet people who are extremely interesting, and Harlan Coben is one of those people.
Coben is a New York Times bestselling author who decided to take an assignment for Parade Magazine covering the postseason. Harlan rode with me on the first day of the Alabama River tournament, and I learned that he has sold 45 million copies of his novels over the years, as well as the fact that he took the job mainly because of his young son, Ben.
Ben is in love with fishing, and when Coben asked his son what he would like to see him write about, he told his dad that fishing was the topic. Harlan rode with me on Day 1, then he and Ben went to fish Lake Jordan with Elite Series pro Greg Vinson, and had a good day together.
Since the event, Harlan and I have texted numerous times, and we’ve kind of hit it off and become mutual fans of each other. Ben wants to be a tournament angler, so I’ll likely get the chance to see our families get together somewhere, and I’ll help Ben understand our sport a little bit more.
I feel very fortunate to have met Harlan, and that the article in Parade , which will go to more than 30 million people in February, will include some of me. Ironically, Harlan’s new crime thriller due to be released in March 2010 is called Caught , but it has nothing to do with fishing.