Fishing with Kevin Van Dam by Monty Milburn


This past March I had the pleasure of working with one of the all-time greats in the sports fishing world, Kevin Van Dam, most often known simply as KVD. With sponsors such as Bass Pro Shops, Toyota, Busch Beer, and Plano Tackle, KVD is one of the biggest names in the game. We were called upon by the advertising agency of Plano to produce assets for a variety of uses, from long and skinny web banners to full-page verticals to traditional horizontal spreads for ads and trade show posters. The basic approach was to capture active lifestyle shots of KVD in his element - fishing for largemouth bass. 

We locked down a weekend in March in the greater Lake Charles area of Louisiana. The area is home to a sportsman's lodge paradise on the outskirts of town, Grosse Savanne, which sits 5-10 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. It's surrounded by an outstanding largemouth fishery that produces upwards of 8-10lb. bass, as well as an incredible bird preserve with tons of wildlife right outside your doorstep. The night before the shoot, my assistant Paul and I ran through our equipment and schedule, but we also had the opportunity to kick back and socialize with KVD and the crew. As it turns out, some of the other guests in the lodge were pro-anglers who knew KVD quite well, many of them longtime friends. I felt incredibly lucky to get to know these guys on a personal level and listen to their stories. We didn't stay up too late though, as we had a long day ahead! 

More often than not, these types of fishing/outdoor shoots start with breakfast about 1.5 hours before sunrise to ensure we're in position in the water for first light. Usually, we'll break the day up with a morning session, followed by a midday break, and then get back to it in the afternoon until last light. Working this way maximizes our efforts and allows for the most opportunity for shot variety in a single day. 

As luck had it, this particular day had it all: beautiful sunrise, followed by a nice soft fog that settled in for about an hour, then sunny skies. The afternoon session started partly cloudy and ended with light showers - a perfect day all in all. KVD was the ultimate professional, fun to hang out with, and one heck of a fisherman. During the 14-hour shoot he caught too many fish to count, some weighting in excess of 8 pounds. We celebrated a great shoot and reviewed the footage that night, and the next morning KVD was off to his next gig, and we headed home.